(121-02-27) No Disturbances
No Disturbances
Summary: Mormonts.
Date: 27/02/2014
Related: None

This modest stone manse is well appointed, with three levels, each about thirty feet square.

The lowest includes a main hall with a massive stone fireplace, and an exit into the stable. There are no windows facing the wynd, but an arched door and wide windows give a view of a walled garden in the back. The back garden wall is the wall of a house the next alley over, and its windows and those of the surrounding residences might offer a view of the garden, but no access.

The floors above house several chambers of varying sizes, a few with fireplaces joining the single big chimney.

The Mormonts' visiting aunt has been locked away in a prison of her own making for the entirety of the morning and part of the day thus far, a habit which she takes up many days, holding to strange personal schedules: waking late — or at least emerging late — and staying up into the night's darkest hours. It is not the most personable of schedules — even her own children have only caught glimpses of her of late —- but has she not been through a lot, travelling so far away from home? They haven't questioned her. Then again, perhaps she's always like this.

She does, however, emerge now, slowly descending the stairs. Though her arrival is made of soft, careful steps, the precise heft of her skirts, squared poise of her shoulders, and quiet, slightly dark intensity of Lady Hellan's presence make it seem a rare, royal event.

The sight of Ulyka Mormont might be a grotesque one at this hour, sitting on a stouty chair in a posture that fits her heavy boots rather than the lilac linnen of her gown. Her fierce eyes stare down on a piece of needlework in her lap, a few driplets of sweat glisten on her forehead and tell of her struggle with needle and thread, while her practicing sword is carelessly leaned against the table.

The sound of steps catches her attention, the view of her aunt softens her mien. Quickly she folds the piece and puts it away, dabs the sweat of her forehead with a handkerchief and raises to greet.

"Aunt. I haven't seen you in a while, we were a bit worried. Pray, tell… is everything as it should be?"

Hellan glances up to mark Ulyka for but a split-second, returning to watching where her feet fall all the way into the main room. A perfunctory answer hovers on her tongue, twitches the strong definition of her mouth, but she dismisses it. "No," she answers with frank honesty instead — poised as though it should be obvious. Of course everything is not fine, or else she would not be here at all. Looking at her niece properly, however, the small smile that follows is meant to be reassuring. "I am fine, child," she indeed reassures, yet there's a sharpness to the edges of her words rather than the softness she might have intended.

Her last few steps quicken before she lowers into a chair near Ulyka, pressing a hand tightly to her midsection in an attempt to remain poised, trying to hide some manner of pain.

It may be the hint of asperity with which the friendly words are delivered, it may be the slight oddness spotted about her aunt's posture, but the discomfort does not remain unnoticed. Not unnoticed, but unmentioned by words, since Ulyka manages to tame her usually straightforward temper for the sake of diplomacy.
"A tea could not harm, though," she states and raises, putting water from a jug into a coppery kettle and glancing at the chest with herbs on a shelf.

"I thought we might have disturbed you. I know our household can be rather noisy at times, but the Walrus is a good man and Maera… the best sister. "

There's the tread of heavy boots going down the stairs, and the jingle of mail as Maera descends down the stairs. Longclaw hangs at her side, and her bow and quiver adorns her back. She heads to the sideboard, unmindful of others in the room, and pours out a cup of wine. Bread from the midday meal with be snatched up along with fruit, and she begins to eat and drink in a hurry.

Hellan is not opposed to tea — at least, she voices no complaint to Ulyka's endeavour to make some. It takes her a good, long moment to settle fully into the chair, and even then a stiffness remains from top to bottom to make her appear never fully comfortable, though the same can be said of the woman in any circumstance viewed thus far. Never relaxed. "You haven't disturbed me," she says and, this time, the assurance is clearer-cut. "And it is your home more than mine, you may make as much noise as you please." After a brief pause to watch Maera descend and go about her business, she starts to question, "Did you say the— " She catches her breath, pushes it down. " — Walrus?"

"One-eyed Pate's son." Maera tells Hellan in explanation, "We decided The Wulrus suits him better than Pate the Younger once he sprouted that ridiculous mustache of his." She chews on bread, and washes it down with wine.

Ulyka cannot surpress a little smirk as she explains, "And the enormous a bit of weight that has spread around his hips these days. But don't tell him I trim his name that way. He is known as the Wulrus, yes."

The appearance of her sister immediately splashes her towards the table. "Maera?" she asks, letting all questions about betrothals, Stormlanders and Bear Islanders linger in this single, simple little word. Tenderly she lays her handkerchief next to her sister's plate, to make sure she would not have to search for something to take care of the crumbs.

To her aunt she continues "It is our home, yes, but you are our guest after all. A quiet one, often seeking solitude. There is nothing wrong with that, if it is done for the right reasons."

Hellan tips her head back with briefly pinching brows, giving the ladies a peculiar look until the identity of 'the Wulrus' comes together with the vaguest revelatory softening of her features and "ah" — and soon thereafter she seems to lose interest. She looks at Ulyka, calculating in that solid moment, then lifts a few fingers from her lap dismissively. "We're family. Don't think of me as a guest," she says, "at least, not enough to go out of your way."

"A reason more for us to make sure you are well. We are family, you are right. That means we can trust each other in many things those Reachlanders wouldn't understand," Ulyka says with a meaningful side-glance at Hellan.

As the water is about to boil, she opens the little chest to smell suspiciously at one of the herbs, slightly furrowing her brows. Twitching her mouth she crumbles a few into the cups.

"So, how have you found the Southerners this far?"

"I'll tell you later." Maera says to Ulyka before adding, "And you ought to be showing Lady Genevra around the city to be a good host, if that's alright with Aunt Hellan, of course." She finishes off the cup of wine, and her brow furrows before she suddenly turns to tromp upstairs, as if she'd forgotten something.

Hellan gives her younger niece a tight smile, which vanishes upon the question. "Rich and sensitive," comes her immediate, plain answer. "To be fair, however— " Would she really be fair anyway… "I've not spent much time out in the city." Glancing to Maera on the stairs, her gaze goes distant, as if she's forgotten to reply— then, sudden, out of a daze, "Yes," her head turns quick to Ulyka, "You'd do well to keep Genevra occupied. You're of a similar age." Grey eyes narrow. "Are you not? How old are you now?"

"Of course. I'll gladly do. I thought about buying a few more ribbons for our festive gowns anyway," Ulyka says to her sister.
"Four-and-ten by now, " she answers her aunt, indicating a certain discomfort while talking about that matter by the way she bows her head. "But It won't be long until my next nameday, though. " she quickly adds. "And yes, I am… I am sure it would be nice to spend a few hours with her, when my training allows it. The Reachlanders might be rich and sensitive. And elegant, " she continues with a pinch of humble admiration "But especially the ladies can be harch in their judgement at times. It would be nice indeed to spend a few hours with a lady of my own age."

A little smile flashes about the corners of her mouth as she finally serves the tea.

"Better she has you as an influence than a Reachlander girl around here," Hellan states, mired in a touch of cynicism. She looks up at Ulyka beneath dark brows as the tea is served, murmuring a polite if stiff thank-you. "Almost five-and-ten, have you a betrothal yet?" She reaches casually for her teacup; her tone crisp in contrast, "Are you going to marry a Southerner too, then?"

"No, not yet, I fear. But once my sister is officially betrothed, I hope that will change soon enough. A Southerner… I must admit at times I imagine myself wandering through those flower filled gardens, bathing in the afternoon's light in their airy solars… I'm not sure whether one of them would want me, though. " Ulyka explains with a bit of a weary smile. "Surely you are hoping to find a fine young nobleman for your daughter as well."

Rather stony-faced to the notion of flowery gardens and airy solars, suipping her tea, Hellan responds more practically, "It would be a financial merit — for you,for Bear Island, as well as for Genevra." She seems tired by the topic — her own daughter — halfway through, but carries on. "If there is indeed a union to be had for her here, it would at least make our visit a worthwhile one."

As the older Lady lowers her hand, the teacup, delicate in her grasp, starts to shudder. Perhaps it's her grip that's delicate, though her hand appears so strong, far from dainty. The tea carefully crafted by her young niece nearly spills from the side, stopped only by Hellan's force of will. "I'm sorry. I've just realized I have an errand to run." If it's possible, her coolly pale skin appears even whiter, but her voice, unlike her hand, is firm. She stands suddenly, sets the cup safely on the table, and makes quite purposefully for the door of the manse. Ulyka is left alone in the wake of her abruptly coming-and-going sister and aunt.

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