(515-05-23) Second Impressions
Summary: Sir Gilchrist de Woodford pays a call to Woodborough Manor, to present himself to his intended and her family. Needless to say, that the encounter does not go particularly smooth.
Date: May 23rd, 515
Related: This previous encounter: A Musical Offense
gilchrist darchelle 

Woodborough - Salisbury

Houses and buildings form a sort of circle enclosure with various houses all with thatched roofing dotting around the circle. The center piece, forming the top of the circle area, is the manor house, a large, flat, long structure with the more expensive red terracotta-tiled roof in fair condition. The river runs nearby the manor providing a water source and swimming fun for the residents of Woodborough. The grass is lush and further downstream are the paddocks and pens that house the livestock that are a source of food and milk and trade.

Two riders were riding towards Woodborough Manor from the crossing of Up Avon, following the road through a forestial stretch of land. The younger of them wore a somewhat relaxed expression of serene curiosity, a squire riding in close pursuit of his knight. The demeanor of which was more of a stony cast of moderately handsome features. ‘Moderate’, because there is that scar, and a beard, although well-kept, that gives him a slightly older look than his years. The earnest expression he sports does not help much either, nor does that faint frown really make him appear much at ease.

Riding into the courtyard of the Manor, the knight brings his steed to a halt, then dismounts in a swift and rather unspectacular motion. “I’m Sir Gilchrist de Woodford,” he introduces himself to an approaching stablehand, his tone moderately grave, “I am here to see the head of the manor, and well… I suppose, the Lady Darchelle as well.”

The young man bows his head to the knight. He takes the reins of his horse. The stable boy points toward the manor. “The lord is away now, sir Gilchrist. Though, lady Darchelle may be found behind the manor. She is outside having a picnic under the apple trees.” The boy will lead a horse to the stables, if allowed.

Darchelle is indeed sitting on a blanket. Three apple trees are casting a shadow over her. The man will see her back. It’s mostly brightly red curls cascading down over her back to reach the ground. A young small puppy is running around the girl. He barks excitedly and brings her the stick. Pale fingers of the girl take the stick and toss it to the puppy, who runs to grab it again. This repeats many times.

There are some fruits and vegetables, and cheese, and meat ready on the table together with a glass of wine. Bow and arrows are laying beside the young woman too.

The Woodford inclines his head to the information given by the stable boy, his face an unmoving mask as he says, "I see." Turning just so to wave for his squire Sean to take his own steed to the stables and then take care of it and Spot as well, Gilchrist ventures where indicated, circling the building of the manor until he spots the pleasant garden with the apple trees.

Grey-blue eyes seem to be drawn to the red curls cascading down her back, his steps almost coming to a halt. But then, the knight's hands clasp behind his back and he approaches, clearing his throat once he is in hearing distance.

"Good day, my lady. I am Sir Gilchrist de Woodford. There is business between our families that I came here about." So far he does not seem to recognize her, after all there must be more than one redhead in the area…?

The first one to greet the knight is that tiny dark puppy. It leaves the stick to lay in the grass and runs toward the stranger. He starts to growl and bark as loudly as he can. His squeaky voice echoes in the gardens. The animal runs around the man. Sometimes he dares to approach him quite close, but then he crouches and moves backwards a few steps away.

Darchelle stands up slowly. Then a man may notice that she is wearing a dress he already seen: the upper part is dark brown, while the skirt is white with some spots there and here of grass and mud. She has a long belt decorated with feathers. Once the lady turns to the man and offers him a tiny curtsy, Gilchrist will be able to recognize her, because Elle looks exactly the same when he saw her last time.

Though, today her smile is even wider, forming that lovely dimple on her cheek. “Sir Rupert, come here! Come!” She pats her legs and leans a bit. That is when the puppy stops barking. He runs toward his mistress, licks her fingers and then Elle scoops the animal up to her arms. She nuzzles her nose into his furs. Her eyes watch Sir Gilchrist with amusement and curiosity. She looks him over before speaking again, “I am lady Darchelle de Woodborough. It’s nice to meet you again. I see that the destiny is quite a prankster and does not allow you to run away from me as you tried that the last time. Was I that scary or it was my singing?”

The puppy licks her cheek bringing a quiet chuckle from the girl’s lips. Then puppy shifts in her arms and starts to eye the man.

Gilchrist checked his Honest of 12, he rolled 3.

Gilchrist's gaze drops to the puppy, and for once, his rather stoic cast seems to soften into a smile as he bends down, and removing the gloves from his hands he reaches out to pat the cute little dog on its head. If he can get ahold of it, as it seems to be quite lively. His eyes follow the puppy as it withdraws and then, seeing Darchelle rise, he straightens as well.

His smile dims, then fades completely as recognition dawns upon him, and stoicness shifts back into place. "So, that was you.", he states flatly. Executing a bow next, as she introduces herself fully for the first time. "My lady. A pleasure." His tone is polite but the surprise is evident in the glance he shoots her. "As for running away…" He coughs, hesitating whether to voice his true sentiment there. "Your conduct had me doubt I would truly be able to enjoy my stay at that inn."

“My conduct?” Darchelle spits out rolling her eyes, “Do you want to say that my behaviour somehow offended or saddened oh so always grave face of yours?” She laughs and shakes her head. Her fiery curls weave around slim shoulders, “Since I will have to marry you and accept your God,” she frowns at that part as if tasting something super bitter, “I hope you will at least learn how to smile and not to leave me standing like that other day…” She sighs and gestures at the blanket, “Would you like to join me? I believe we shall start getting to know each other?” Her voice becomes soft and sweet like honey again. The warm smile curls her lips up once again.

The girl leans to release the puppy, who crouches and eyes Gilchrist warily. “I believe you wanted to talk to my father, but my mother and he have quite a nice tradition to spend each morning of may out there, alone. Well, not exactly all alone, but away from the noise of the village and just enjoy their company. They should come back for lunch.”

"Yes.", Gilchrist dares to confirm. "I was offended by your choice of song, the intent of which left little left to imagination." His voice he keeps calm, at least to such extent that the slight tremble of indignation is little more than a hint. There is a pause, but the knight holds Darchelle's gaze, even as she continues. And there is a faint twitch of his brows when she comments on the matter of faith. "I believe it can only be of benefit to you," Gilchrist de Woodford opines drily. "As would be a number of… other rules, but yes… why not?" The latter said to the invitation of joining her.

Her warm smile will not find an echo on the Woodford's stoic features. At least not, as long as Gilchrist's focus is on her. When it shifts to the puppy, he can hardly keep up that stern expression, "That puppy is yours? You call him… Sir Rupert?" Is there a hint of amusement in his tone? Even so, he waits till Darchelle has settled herself on the blanket before he sits down somewhere beside her - not too far and not too close. "I would like to meet your parents," he states neutrally. "As for you…" His gaze lifts. "I… believe we didn't have the best start. I'll be frank with you. I didn't expect to marry this soon. I've just returned from Yorkshire. It's… rather drastic news to come home to. So… If my lack of enthusiasm offends you, I ask you to accept my apologies." He looks towards Darchelle, curiously. "How did you take the news?"

Darchelle settles down on the blanket. She wraps her one arm around her crooked legs, while the other idly reaches for the tip of an arrow. She starts to gently brush the spike with her thumb. Her chin rests on her knee, while eyes curiously watch the man. Her toes stick out from behind the skirt and they idly dance on the blanket. “Yes, sir Rupert is my defender and my puppy. I love him dearly as he loves me.” She answers to the man’s question.

The puppy comes to lay beside Darchelle. His eyes are on the man but less warily than before. The sun finds the couple through the leaves of the apple trees. The rays tickle puppy’s nose and soon his tiny eyes start to close down. He is slowly falling asleep, but really struggles against that. The sleep wins at the end. After all, this morning was quite intense with the arrival of that stranger.

“I offered a curtsy to my parents once they brought the news,” Darchelle states seriously, “Then I walked out of the room to the stables. I took my horse and left. I was gone for few days. You know, travelling around forests, hunting, drinking, making some challenges.” She sighs, “I do not fully remember what happened. I woke up in the mud and there was an apple laying beside me together with a body of a stranger. My arrow was sticking in his head. I guess I offered to play a game, when I was drunk and I didn’t manage to shoot the apple on his head.” She shrugs, “So, I took my arrow, stood up and went home. I washed myself and now I am alright with an idea that I will have to marry you.”


Gilchrist checked his Suspicious of 13, he rolled 1.
Gilchrist checked his Awareness of 10, he rolled 5.

"I can see how you must be fond of him," Gilchrist comments with a faint smile, his eyes cutting to the drowsy puppy. This at least a topic that may be less tense, than the other. His grey-blue eyes linger on Darchelle, having noted her earlier fidgeting with an arrow, as he listens to her reply about how she reacted to the news. However funny she might have thought her prank to be, the knight seems to be less amused, even if convinced she is not speaking the earnest truth. "Seems that arrow saved him then," he comments drily. "I mean… perhaps you've sung for him as well…?" Turning that prank in a direction that she may not have intended.

"All jests aside," he frowns. "You may think of me as a very dull and restrictive person. But. Your family and mine expects us to handle this… situation in a grown up manner. I take what you said as a jest, as I think a lady of your background will respect her family and… well… certain principles. I will treat you with respect. In turn I expect you to act in a way that will not bring you into discredit." Pagan, or not. At this he falls silent, waiting for her reaction to his announcement.

Cerys checked her honest of 13, she rolled 10.

Darchelle’s cheeks blush a bit at that unexpected turn of the jest. She might have a hard time singing in the future. Her fingers leave arrow be and the girl turns to her husband-to-be, “I am a scary and wild pagan to you, am I not? Of course, you expected some wild story about my rage and temperamental reaction to such news, didn’t you?” Her gaze wanders to the puppy. The redhead places her arm on the animal’s back gently. He shifts a bit.

“Honestly speaking, I bowed to my parents’ will. I do respect them. I did not cry, I did not start to shout, I did not refuse to obey. I always knew that I will have to marry a man I barely know. That’s alright. I am not worried at all as I do not plan on running away.” The girl makes a pause adding in a more quiet voice, “Of course, I did not expect to marry a Christian.” Now her eyes find Gilchrist again. She has no smile in her face but a serious expression, “I am glad to hear that you will respect me. Then you do realize, that we both have to obey to the needs of our families. So, we will participate in all the needed farce. I will go through all the needed rites officially, but do not expect me welcoming your God in my heart. I grew up with my Gods. They were keeping me safe, they were guiding me through my hard days. Nobody will ever force me to abandon them. So, I will keep following the old ways and my children will learn of the ways of her mother. You will have to respect that as I won’t keep you away from teaching your children about your mighty God. Our children will be free to chose which God or Gods they want to carry in their hearts. Do you understand me?”

Gilchrist checked his Honest of 12, he rolled 3.

Gilchrist is determined to keep up his polite facade, even if Darchelle turns out to be quite a challenge for his equanimity. Her comment about how she thinks he sees her has him lower his gaze, another twitch of his brows there, as he digests her words. Bravery is to be learned on more battlefields than one, this knight has to learn, when he clears his throat and sticks to his tactics of honesty.

"You are a Pagan," as if that explained everything in her behaviour, and his conduct towards her as well, "and no. I did not." Expect a wild story about her reaction. "It seems you took it the same way as I," Gilchrist remarks quietly then. "And I heard the news directly from my uncle, Sir Cadfan. It was he who led the… negotiations of betrothal, with my cousin Acwel being away to the continent." He exhales. "And no, I did not expect to marry a Pagan." The admission leaves his lips with some effort to keep that calm and matter-of-factly tone. "We Woodfords are a family of Roman Christian tradition."

There is a frown on his features when Darchelle continues about the 'farce', and he casts her a long ominous look. "You'll go through the rites of baptism. And you'll accompany me to mass each Sunday," he states. A statement that does not allow much room for objection. "You may think what you will," he says, with a low snort, "but outwardly, I expect you to be a paragon of virtue; to act like a good Christian woman. And no! In regards to our children…" His grey-blue eyes find hers, and there may be that faint hint of a blush his beard cannot conceal completely. "In regards to our children, they must not choose, as this choice already has been made. I will not risk their souls to roast in Hell. They will be raised in the faith of Good Roman Christians." His voice is polite yet firm, not tolerating contradiction. "Do you understand me?"

Darchelle listened to the man's words staring at the puppy beside her, but once he asks if she understood his words, the redhead woman looks up at the man. There is that challenging expression in her features, "So, that is all the respect you can lend to me? Does your god believe that a loyalty is a sin? Does your god believe that an arrogance, an idea that you are above others, is a virtue? Your words make me doubt of the good intentions of your god."

She looks around and then speaks out in a calm whisper, "Do you realize, that you are a guest at my house? I need to squeal just once and sir Rupert will bite into your foot, and servants will come out to look. It takes me a second to start crying. I will tell them how you tried to claim me against my will since you consider me your property already. You are a man coming from a battle. The shadows of the death and blood, screams and pain is still haunting you. You had no chance to rest and feel a gentle touch of a woman during those horrible days. You were just too young for such cruelties. You murdered people and fell into the darkness of a sin. Your lust grew so high. You needed a soft touch. Though, as a faithful man you could not visit a whore. So, once you heard of the news of a marriage… Well, when you saw your beautiful and innocent wife-to-be… Well, she is yours and you saw no sin in this. Plus, you expected that a pagan won't resist. But then she suddenly refuses to be claimed. She is innocent young girl. Your lust raises anger and you press her to the ground…"

The girl looks around again, "I know the names of the children of my servants. I feed the common people and keep them safe. I treat them as equals. They adore me. They will agree with any story I will tell them. They will see what I ask them to see. All pagans know the opinion about them Christians have. Plus, I am a virgin girl who befriended the unicorn. So, you have two options. One is accept my terms. I will play a proper Christian woman in public, but I will follow the old ways as all of my children will be introduced to that. Or you can stay firm and ignorant Christian, but then you will have to face a sudden decrease of your reputation and you will bring dishonor to your family." The young woman straightens up. She looks firm now, challenging and unpredictable.

"God exists. He knows, never just believes.", Gilchrist responds with a raised brow. "As for your intentions…" His words trail off and he shakes his head. "Mine are honorable enough. You will not dare to debate, however, that you are to convert to Christian faith? Is this how you choose to honor the wish of your family?" There is a faint hint of indignation in his tone, where he once again tries to keep it calm and reasonable. "Is this your idea of loyalty, I wonder?"

Her next words, however, make Gilchrist shoot her an astonished glance, and all color fades from his features for a moment, before his blood comes rushing back in. "Such action would speak more for your lack of honor than mine. Claim whatever you will. And both of us will be spared from this marriage, and your atrocious lies would only have served to create a rift between our Houses. The consequences will be on you." And yes, it seems Darchelle has managed to ruffle this Woodford's feathers sufficiently so, that he moves to stand. "Anyone who knows me, is aware I would never resort to rape. God above, I will not even lay hands on you, before our union has been legitimized, and the wedding rites performed." Given the disgusted look he gives her, it appears slightly doubtful he considers ever laying his hands on her, but… That remains to be seen.

"So lying is a thing that comes easily to Pagans? Would your friends even go as far as swear an oath by your Gods to whatever supposed misconduct of mine you tell them to testify?", he retorts. "I for my part value honesty, and I will act according to the contract Woodborough Manor has agreed on with Woodford. Our children are supposed to be raised as Christians, and so they will."

"The contract says that," Darchelle moves to stand up too, "That I have to marry you and become Christian. Though, the contract speaks not of me forgetting my Gods and paying no respect to them." She smoothes her skirt and inhales some air, "Our children may be raised as Christians, but the contract does not forbid them from getting to know the Gods of their mother, grandfather and other ancestors. If at least one of my children will decide that they prefer to be lead by my Gods, they will have such a chance. You can't force people to follow your God, because then your God will have more enemies than friends within his people."

The girl lowers her look to the puppy, who raise to his feet too. Sir Rupert starts to whine and nuzzle against her legs, feeling how his mistress grows upset. Indeed, the anger leaves her face and now she just looks honestly sad, "I do not consider the signed treaty as just. It is me who has to sacrifice everything I believe to, everything I grew up with, everything I love dearly. This treaty just shows that your religion is considered above ours. This treaty shows that your people are considered above ours. This treaty shows that your culture is considered above ours. This treaty is against everything what your God and my Gods show as a virtue. I believed that you might be understanding. I was wrong. That is why I had to use a threat. I am but a bug fighting for the remnants of who I am. Don't you see?" She looks up at the man again, "This marriage turns me into a slave. I lose my name, I lose my traditions, I will have to lose all my hobbies, because I will have to act as you and your God orders to the lady. I will lose my religion, I will lose my believes and you want to take away my children from me, each of them. You are not getting yourself a wife, you are getting yourself a slave and now I see that you are ready to enforce such destiny upon me. You are standing there describing yourself as an honorable and respectable man having no shame for lying. That is nothing more but a mask, because deep down in your heart you are but a slaver."

Gilchrist de Woodford endures Darchelle's monologue almost unflinchingly, even taking that half-step back from her as not to make an accidental impression of laying hands on her. "Once they are off age…", he murmurs, to the matter of their hypothetical children of the future, "They shall be free to choose, but before that…" He frowns. "They are to be raised Christians." A snort then.

"You are wrong, on so many levels. This is not about one family being above the other! Heavenly Father, there have been other examples, and don't you dare to deny them. The recent marriage of Lady Bryn de Newton to Talfryn de Idmiston, where she had to… swear fealty to your Gods. And there are others. It is the custom, of the woman marrying into her husband's House. To object to that is like debating the fact of rivers running downstream, the given fealty to our liege and King Arthur…", Gilchrist opines with a voice that is slightly raised now, due to his irritation. He gives her a glare, before he adds in a lower murmur: "And it is not just you who has to make sacrifices…" Here he stands even defending what was decided without his consent. "And however low you may think of me… I am a knight, bound to the rules of chivalry, and thus accustomed to treat ladies with respect. Tis not I who forces this marriage upon you, so stop speaking of me like all of this has been my idea in the first place!"

"It is not you who forces this marriage upon me, but it is you who may change things. You could just say that you will allow me to follow the old ways in secrecy, that you will allow to introduce our children to my gods despite what is written in the agreement. It is up to you if you want a wife or a slave. It's simple like that. You didn’t show me how chivalrous you are, but how firm, judgemental and fierce you might be."

Darchelle sighs once more, "But now I hear a tiny hope in your words. That you might be tolerant and respectful after all." She shrugs and leans to take her bow with arrows. She puts them on her shoulder as if ready to move soon, "Though, if I may ask… What are you going to sacrifice in this marriage? Are you losing money? Are you losing your God? Will you be forced to practice pagan ways? Will your children be taught to watch toward your ancestors and your own ways as if they would be some kind of barbarians? Could you tell me an example when a man had to marry a woman and sacrifice his own believes, take her faith, change his habits, change his life entirely?"

The girl waves her hand, "Don't answer. I already know what you may tell as I know how angry and disappointed you are right this moment. You would prefer to have an obedient wife who could give you children and quietly as a mouse could sit in her room, do needlework and go to the Church each Sunday. So, yes, you are making quite a sacrifice here for having to marry a barbarian whose ways are so strange to you. Forgive me, Sir Gilchrist." She offers a curtsy to the man, "My parents should come home soon. You can wait in the manor. Aileen should show you the way," she points at the servant nearby manor, "And I shall withdraw to do what I like for I have so little time to be myself. After all, my presence is not that pleasant to you."

"That… I cannot." Gilchrist lowers his gaze just so. "And not only due to the agreement. It is… my conviction that there is only one true faith. While I cannot force you to change your beliefs, I could never condone that any children we may have would be raised in any other faith but true Christian." A line appears between his brows, as he raises his eyes to meet Darchelle's gaze should she look his way. "And while I can't force you, I at least hope, that getting acquainted with the traditions and rites of Our Holy Church might help you learn to appreciate our faith for what it is."

The question of his sacrifice in all this, it draws a deep sigh from Gilchrist's lips as well. "My sacrifice…", he admits after a long moment, "is that the question of faith is turning out to be such an issue." Meaning… he may have hoped for a good Roman Christian match. His head he inclines to Darchelle de Woodborough as she offers him a curtsey. "You want me to leave you in peace?" Getting the not so subtle hint there. "Of course, I do not mean to impose upon your time, my lady. Enjoy your 'free time'. I shall look forward to speak with your father."

A bow then, and there he goes, waving Aileen off. "I believe I can find the way by myself."

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