(514-08-02) Of Falts and Matches
Summary: Leodwen receives some rather thought-provoking news on her visit to her home, Falt Manor.
Date: August 2nd, 514
Related: None.
leodwen custennin myfanwy 

Falt Manor

Overlooking the eastern banks of the River Avon, the manor at Falt is quite clearly of Roman construction, although the years since the occupiers left have meant that repairs and rebuilding have given it a more hap-hazard look. The main hall runs parallel to the river with smaller wings at either end, all two stories high, with a small courtyard in the middle. Gardens stretch from the buildings to the river and beyond the northern wing is a range of old service buildings. While the main body of the manor has been kept in reasonable repair, this range has long since fallen into disuse, with stone having been robbed from the walls to patch gaps elsewhere, with the exception of the old bath house which has since been converted in a small chapel to serve the needs of the manor.

Away from the building itself is a yard set aside for the training and drilling of men under arms, and a set of archery buts underneath the trees that line the road down to the river. A small docks can be found on the banks, and to the south a lone path lead towards the edge of the forest.

Summer in Salisbury, and it was already moving past its peak, with July already coming to an end and shifting into a warm and less rainy August. Today is a special day at Falt Manor, as it has seen the return of the oldest Falt child of the main line, Leodwen de Falt, from a two months absence spent at Sarum. She has arrived on her horse, a white mare called Princess, in the early hours of afternoon, with two armed Falt guards in tow, and soon that well-known melodious chuckle fills the hallways and the hall of the manor, as the blonde lady, changed from her riding attire to a modest dress of dark blue linen, and her blonde tresses now redone in an orderly braid, strolls towards the table in the middle of the hall. Yes, she has spotted the jug of ale there, beside a number of clay cups, and Leodwen de Falt does not shy away from the bother to help herself to a drink, after the long ride over dusty roads has evidently left her throat quite parched. She lifts her eyes to let her gaze drift over those present in the hall, in the hope to spot some of her relatives.

The main table in the hall is decorated with an array of flowers - that just happen to include substantial numbers of Leodwen's favourite blooms. And when a huge figure enters, he is wreathed in smiles, great arms spreading wide. "Welcome home! You found your way back, then? I'm glad you could remember the road."

Myfanwy scratches at the dress she wears. This kind of clothes is not what she is used to at all. Give her some leather armour or some chain mail…please! The gown is a deep burgundy…probably hides the blood better…and it's neckline plummets to almost unrespectable levels. That may have been Custard's idea.

"Leodwen, so wonderful to see you again" Myfanwy smiles as she greets her sister-in-law. She's not good at smiles either but it is sincere. And it is about here that she has the horrible realisation that she is the Lady of the Manor now. There is horror in her eyes for a brief moment…she really has no idea what to do. Who can help? "Leodwen, now that you're back, I'm hoping that we can have some long conversations to get to know each other better."

"Aww! Cornflowers!", Leodwen exclaims as she spots the floral decoration in the moment she pours herself some ale, and hearing the familiar deep rumble of her brother's voice she whirls around, mug of ale in her right hand and a single cornflower she has picked up from the table in her left. "How considerate of you!", she smiles, closing the distance, extending her arms as well, to catch that huge brother of hers in a hug - and somehow she manages to keep the ale from spilling all over him, and not to crush the flower held between her fingers. "Of course!", the blonde lady replies then when she lets go of Custennin and he hopefully lets go of her as well, "the road isn't that hard to follow, and we were lucky there weren't any Saxons or bandits about…" She chuckles again, as if such would be an amusing thought rather than a real threat, but even so, Custennin might catch a slightly thoughtful flicker of her gaze as she makes that comment.

"You look good, brother, so I trust your wife treats you well enough?", Leodwen continues then, with a sideways glance towards Myfanwy, all in good spirit. "I've missed you… Both of you. And the manor… It's funny once you are away you suddenly realize how… nice and agreeable it is at home!" Her gaze shifts to the sister-in-law then. "You look well, Myfanwy," the smile genuine enough. "That is a nice dress. I'd very much like these long conversations you speak of, but my stay here will not be longer than one or two weeks, as I'll soon have to return to Sarum."

Custennin momentarily hoists Leodwen off her feet - though only by a few inches, and she is set down again with care. "I like the dress, too," he says happily. "All the more for who is wearing it. But you are welcome here, always, Leodwen. Truly. And if you are to reside in Sarum, then that gives us a further reason to make our visits there more frequent. We can hope that with peace more established, we will be able to spend more time away from our own particular stretch of borderland. It was… frustrating to have our duty require us to remain here, almost within sight of the city, and know that it was under attack - yet to leave our posts here…."

"Only a couple of weeks? How disappointing" Myfanwy frowns to Leodwen - so much for Plan A. Now Myfanwy is actually going to have to learn how to be a Lady of the Manor rather than ask Leodwen to do it. A roll of her eyes at her husband's flattery before she grins wickedly. "I have yet to wear a gown that Custard does not prefer me out of." Though talk of the battle that they missed does make her glum.

"We should have been there fighting. If the city had fallen then this manor would have had no defence at all." Myfanwy sighs and nods apologetically. "I am sorry. We should not discuss such things when my lovely sister has so little time to stay with us. How is Sarum?"

Leodwen inclines her head in a nod to Custennin's words about Sarum. "It's a busy place," she remarks, a hint of pleased excitement flashing there in her hazel eyes, "and… it seems my boldness to ask Earl Robert for a position at his court was quite successful." She pauses, indluging in the brief silence that follows, before she announces, her gaze shifting from Custennin to Myfanwy and back to her brother again: "You see here before you a lady-in-waiting to Earl Robert's wife, Countess Esyte of Salisbury." But certainly, word of this has perhaps already travelled all the way to Falt Manor.

The obvious disappointment in Myfanwy's demeanor catches Leodwen off guard. "Oh… mayhaps I could extend the visit… But alas, the Countess is soon due… She may require my assistance." The wicked grin as well as the remark about Custennin and dresses make Leodwen roll her eyes in a good-natured way. "Better that way, Myfanwy, I suppose. All of us Falts are eagerly awaiting news of a possible new heir.", she quips. The mirth dims then when the battles become a topic, and Leodwen shakes her head at Myfanwy. "Oh, I'd like to discuss this, as I was there. My skills as a healer were required, and yes, there were casualties and severe injuries. But the attacks have subsided for now, the damage to the city walls is being repaired."

"Lady in Waiting? I had heard rumours of some drastic aberration at court. It seems that people were wise to forewarn me!" Custennin follows his words with a warm, broad grin. "I am proud of you. Truly. Delighted, as well. I hope that you will be able to enjoy yourself, and make the most of the opportunities it presents. Though… hrrm."

The lord of the manor looks from one woman to the other then back again. "Myfanwy… we are in service to Sir Oswallt, not direct to the Earl. Our role here, fretful though I freely confess I found it, is to hold the border *unless* directed otherwise. And we are not yet so potent ourselves, nor is our warband so numerous, that we would be like to make a marked difference at Sarum. Much though it pains me to say."

"But 'wen… I have news. You know, as I did, that our uncle made enquiries as to alliances, as might serve our lieges - both in Ebble and Sarum? Response has come."

"Fine" is Myfanwy disgruntled acknowledgement of her new responsibilities. She does have a fervent hatred for the Saxons and any reason to kill them is usually readily accepted. But things are different now.

Thankfully there is good news too. "Congratulations, Leodwen" She leans forward to kiss her sister-in-law on each cheek. "I hope that she deserves someone as wonderful as you" she smiles, "And, no, you shall not stay here a moment longer than you need to. You have new responsibilities and one must attend to those." She quirks a brow at her husband. "Response?"

There is a playful glare sent Custennin's way, and Leodwen even straightens as if readying a retort. But it is another chuckle that will leave her lips instead. "Yes, it seems I shall enjoy myself there. Even if it is more of a house of hens, the ladies helping the first lady in waiting with her duties for the Countess." She falls silent then for a moment, hazel eyes shifting from her brother towards her sister-in-law, the Lady of Falt Manor, as he addresses the matter of their liege lords. "We were lucky that there were so many capable knights present at the time," the blonde Falt offers then. Before Custennin turns once again towards her, addressing her directly. "News? What kind of news?", she inquires, as she places the mug of ale on the table, so that both of her hands can fidget with the cornflower in her grasp. A slight hint of nervousness there in the slight tremble of her tone. "Oh." Less of a word, more of a sigh, but the expression that shows in her eyes is hardly that of resignation. She seems still a bit in shock, when Myfanwy wishes her joy on a fate that is still not quite known to her. "Thank you," Leodwen breathes towards the woman, then nods again to her responsibilities at Sarum, before her eyes shift towards a brother, pleadingly. "Just tell me what was agreed on, Cust?", she asks.

Custennin detaches a scroll case from his belt, offering it to Leodwen. "You can read it, if you prefer," he says gently. "If it is not pleasing to you, I can ask for it to be renegotiated. But I suspect that they would at least wish you to give it careful consideration. Meet the man and assess him, if you have not already done so."

To Myfanwy, he offers a rueful little smile. "An unwed daughter of the house. An heir with a proven habit of parrying axes with his face. My uncle asked our lieges to assist him in doing what they could to secure the future of the house. Hence… an arranged marriage."

"Another marriage? Hopefully it will be as happy as mine and Custard's" Myfanwy offers her sister-in-law, doing her best to sound enthusiastic. As a pagan and a fighting woman, Myfanwy is not terribly excited about marriage not being for anything but love. And though she never expected to love Custard, by the time they were wed she did…and still does! "You are not going to die, Custard. Not before an heir is born at least. I have commanded it so and so shall it be. You don't want to disappoint your wife, do you?"

Looking back at Leodwen and the scroll she offers, "Mayhaps you will be lucky too? It has happened before there is no reason it cannot happen again. Hopefully no one will show her the scroll itself since she can't read and would be slightly embarrassed.

Leodwen reaches out to accept the scroll case. To open it will force her to deposit the blue flower beside her mug of ale on the table, hazel eyes lingering there on the ale for a moment, pondering perhaps that she might have use for it in a moment. Fingers fidget with the scroll case then, a slight agitation apparent there in the slight tremble of her hands. The smile somehow remaining on her comely features, as her teeth catch the bottom lip in an attempt to focus her concentration on the task. The scroll is drawn out of the case, unrolled and stared at for a moment, as the young widow skims the writing with practiced ease. "So… I am to be wed to one Sir Ailil de Broughton…?" she summarizes then the contents of the scroll, looking up to meet Custennin's gaze, her expression a touch bewildered, as she skims her memory if she can match a face to the name. An attempt that will remain futile. "I've never met him. But…the Broughtons are a good family, of Christian faith.", Leodwen allows, her tone showing off a hint of dryness, when she offers in an aside towards Myfanwy: "One can only wish it would last longer than my last." And there is a wink that accompanies the remark, while Leodwen's fingers still hold onto the scroll, obviously not intending to show it around to anyone.

Custennin nods gently. "Barring prior negotiation, he would have the power to command you to conform to his rite, and the like," he cautions softly. "I could seek to gain assurances on that point - but I am inclined to think that a gentler approach than one that starts with what might be taken as demands and challenges might serve us better. Serve you better, in particular. But this seems to be a time of change, here. Drustan, too, is set to depart, to marry the Keeper of Stapleford. Though it looks as if we might secure some marked concessions there, in return for their taking not merely a knight, but the eldest son of a man who served nigh-on a decade as regent of a manor."

"More Christians…how wonderful" teases Myfanwy with a smile before she gently nudges her husband. "We should talk later about your Confessor. I would really prefer that he didn't glare at me everytime he sees me as if I was the…what is it again…'Whore of Babingdon'?" She smiles warmly at Leodwen. "As much as my husband talks of concessions and lands and alliances, you and I know that there can be love as well. And I hope that you find it a second time and, yes, that it lasts longer." She reaches out to give a squeeze of Leodwen's hand before gesturing to the table. "Shall we eat? Are we expecting more guests?"

Leodwen inclines her head to Custennin's words. "The Chalke family did not insist on my converting to their rites, and it certainly did not cause offense when I continued to speak my prayers in the best suited language for them. But yes, I understand what you mean. Best I get to know this Sir Ailil and find out just how tolerant he is." A faint smile curves her lips, but her eyes narrow just so, suggesting Leodwen may have a bit of a head of her own. "Gentle approach?", she rolls her eyes and shakes her head, making that blonde braid bounce a little on her back. But it is the news of another betrothal that draws Leodwen's attention then, and her smile widens. "Stapleford…? How interesting! This is delightful news indeed. Drustan…" Her tone becomes slightly wistful as her gaze meets that of her brother. "You must regret sending him away…"

Myfanwy's tease earns her an amused glance from Custennin’s sister. "All to make you accept our faith with more ease," Leodwen quips, one brow lifting then at the interaction between her brother and his wife. "Love… is a rare luxury in the arena of arranged matches, dear Myfanwy. I can only hope, we can find some common ground, and maybe develop a friendly relationship. Such as with poor Dafydd. He was an agreeable chap, nunc autem requiescit in pace."

"Selfishly? I would prefer not to lose him at all," Custennin admits with a grin, moving towards the table. "And yes. Respect is often the best that one might hope for to start with, in an arrangement. From that can certainly grow love. To begin the wedding with it…" He shoots a fond (and somewhat dazedly disbelieving) look at Myfanwy. "I still wonder quite how in all Creation I came to win you," he admits happily "But, ahh, yes. Sir Drustan seems set on winning his Claire, and she him. I shall do whatever I can to assist yourself and Sir Aillil to reach a similar understanding, if I may."

"Your Creation had nothing to do with it" Myfanwy winks to her husband before finding a chair to sit in. And then realising she has to sit in one of the ones at the long ends. This will take some getting used to. "I really must meet more of these people though I am not sure that Drustan is…excited…by my religious beliefs. And do not worry, Leodwen, I shall be investigating this Aillil myself." A pause. "I am teasing."

Leodwen smiles, to Custennin's confession of love towards his wife, and while she looks hardly scandalized by Myfanwy's denial of Creation having anything to do with it, she dares to remark: "However you try not to acknowledge it… But love is a gift from God, and He has blessed you both. And oddly enough, even Drustan seems to be likewise privileged with his Claire de Stapleford. What I think is that with so much joy and happiness already spent on my family… can there be really anything left of it, when it comes to me and my next attempt at marriage?" The words clearly a jest, but even so, that flicker of uncertainty will remain in Leodwen de Falt's gaze, until she has finished her meal with the family and ventured outside into the courtyard; carrying that scroll case along with her, to give it a second read in the bright sunlight, as if such could brighten the prospect of potential perhaps's and maybe's.

For his part, Custennin has no intention of being any more formal than he has to be - keeping both his ladies close, while eagerly showering them with the affection that so rarely gets to be a part of his public persona. Wrapping up with a relaxing drink in the sunshine suits his intentions perfectly.

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