(121-03-07) An Esteemed Guest
An Esteemed Guest.
Summary: Yael and her kidnapper play a lethal guessing game.
Date: 12/03/14
Related: Wickham's Nest

The cottage containing the esteemed guest is rather well appointed, with small round windows of thick, green tinted glass looking out over a small brook beneath an aspen tree nestled among grassy hillocks. The walls are whitewashed, the floorboards and rafters of smooth dark wood, and the room appointed with a small table, chairs, a modest selection of books, and a feather bed on a mattress of woven rope. A trio of guards come and go, bringing meals and sickly sweet bottles of summerwine, but keeping distant from the prisoner as if their lives depended on it.

It would be an ideal vacation spot if one were actually a guest with its round windows, lovely brook, and green tinted glass. However, it is little more than a particularly exquisite prison. Over the past days the guards have been tested in little ways to mark their position and placement. A request for water to bathe with made upon one of their deliveries. Dressed in her red silks, cleaned of dirt and elsewise the best she could, Yael sits on the edge of the bed playing with her snake coiled around her wrists. Ebony lengths of hair hang in wild waves over her slender shoulders, arching in wild crests and waves for lack of a comb beyond her fingers. Her voice is soft as she sinks to it in Myrish, marking the pattern of the sun across the floor. Her only track of time. "A fish's wife did sell a scale…"

The monotony of her third day drifts into evening when a call from the guards in the front room greet a new arrival. Shortly after the words, "Get her ready," are heard, the door is unlocked and a pair of her wardens enter, one of them holding the same enclosed hood Yael had worn in her ride from Wickham's nest. A gruff, "Set still," by way of instruction, and they will seek once again to bind the hood over her head by a snug knot at the nape of her neck. One man recoils briefly from a hiss of the snake.

The soft tones of her song break off abruptly at the order. Dark eyes flit towards the door, although she does not move from the bed. There is nowhere to go. "Don't you touch me," Yael commands sharply, hand extending with her hissing snake seated around it like a queen. Her opposite bats away the other man as he reaches for her, catching little more than a lock of hair. "I have a right to see my captor."

From the next room comes a chuckle at the command. "You've also the right not to be carried off, Lady mine.". Backlit by the lanterns in the front room, no featured of note can be picked out. "But then, my dear guest has no authority here. Alas! Here she has no title, no power, and must obey. But lest you think me a barbarian, I will leave you the choice: accept the hood, or I will be off, and we shant have the chance to share in the latest news." Shoulders roll in an idle shrug.

A racing heart does not show on her composed features as the guards linger near with the hood in hand, her snake curling protectively as it senses fear. Sharp fangs pricking the air in arcs as vicious as any blade, hiss cutting across the room. "Here I thought I lost a game…" Yael drawling words are almost edged with cruelty, cutting in their shades of bleak humor. It is a gift of court. A Lady's scorn. "Such as I have a choice now." Lashes prick her cheeks as she narrows her eyes in consideration, body sinuous as she rises from the bed in a fluit motion and wraps the snake around her neck like a necklace. "Very well, but I shall put it on myself." Expectantly, she extends a hand to guard to receive it.

"Still she bargains for any shred of influence. We have a rare creature in our midst, my fellows." Another chuckle. "Lady mine, our game has only just begun. You can't win or lose until we play, nor can you learn what the world outside thinks of your abduction, unless you do as you are bid."

"I still follow your rule, my captor," Yael answers. "Your men may tie it, I just wish to put it on myself. It is in the very nature of your command."

"An ear for detail, I like it. Very well, hand my dear Lady the hood, lad. It wouldn't do if you ruined her fine hair- she might even lose an earring." The sack is handed over, while the unseen captor muses aloud, "While I think that skin of yours would look particularly fetching in white, I must say there is an unmistakable allure to silks."

The twin of the one lost sits on the table. Yael's only remaining pieces of jewellery are the snake coiled around her wrist and the living darling around her neck. A pretty scowl touches her mouth as she says. "I already did because of it." Lifting her hand, her fingers touch her ear from where it was torn. Her extended fingers curl around the sack in a moment of white-knuckled pause, dark eyes slipping towards the voice that speaks from the dark. She does not comment beyond, "Perhaps your next visit, my captor." Likely not. Lest it is a white dress in exchange for the sack. Swallowing, she smoothes her hair to one side and slides the sack over her neck, the motion causing her pet to hiss with dislike. They may tie it, if they wish. Provided they don't fear the snake.

"I know," the unseen host notes to the already lost earring. "So does half of the Dornish marches.". As he speaks on, the knot is haltingly tied, but snugly at last. An unseen order causes both guards to leave the room, the door shutting behind them, "Perhaps," voices the last man in the chamber. "Ser Eryk's bereaved brothers and wife are calling for blood, of course. I'm not sure you were aware, but young Jothon Hightower was killed as well, his kin are irate. There is much talk of war against whatever Stranger-begotten fiend is responsible." The sound of steps drawing closer, as the speaker half circles the seated Yael before reversing his steps.

The snake lashes warningly at the hand that briefly brushes its mistress's skin as the secure knot is tied to the hood. The guards are wise to move quickly. A held breath is exhaled slowly as they move away and ever a lady, Yael folds her skirt neatly beneath her as she retakes a seat on the bed. One hand brushing against it, marking it before she sits. From her posture, were it not for the mask and her appearance, one might think she was attending a dinner of particular note. "This is not a surprise to you," she interjects smoothly, head turning to follow his motion the best she can. "You slaughtered a party without consideration, regardless of age, knowing full well that would be the cause." Light as her tone is, they could be talking about the weather. Her slender shoulders tense as his steps draw closer and closer.

"True, and I suspect you had reasoned out as much in your time here," he notes in return. "But did you know that one of the attackers, cowards and reavers all, was struck in the eye by an arrow, and fell down a well? Would my most canny lady care to guess what was learned of him when he was raised back into the light?"

"I am sure that I couldn't imagine," Yael opines coolly, willing to let him paint his brilliance in broad strokes. "I imagine the evidence of him was damning to those who found him."

"I'm rather sure you could, but so be it," he returns, affecting a disappointed note to his voice, before speaking on. "A Dornishman, in light maile with a yellow silken favor on his elbow, his arms bearing the maker's mark of… the Blackmont Castle armory." A fresh breath, as he adds, “None are quite sure what to make of the finding of a Dornish lady's earring on their escape ride back into the Red Mountains."

Yael sucks a breath through her teeth, her only slight but audible reaction to the news. It might be satisfying if you were waiting for it, breaking her composure. "So you seek to pin your deeds on my husband's house?" The words are said less for confirmation than they are to be voiced. The warm sandy tones breaking the peaceful air of the cottage. "So what will you do with me now? Am I to be a ransom or a trophy? My family will pay well for my return."

"You, Lady mine, shall remain where you are while this gambit of mine plays out," the unseen knight voices. "Though it may shock you to learn as much, I did not think to find you there. Imagine my surprise!" Light laughter precedes a release of breath. "What man wouldn't offer any sum to have you back? But what I am uncertain on is how best to use this fine stroke of fortune."

Yael bows her head at that decision, hands clasped neatly in her lap, causing her own dark hair to brush against her arms. The length of it spilling out from beneath her hood. When she looks up at him (as if she could see), the hood hides the ire in her gaze and the way dark eyes are blacked with emotion. "Here I would have thought you had planned for every avenue," she muses, sounding almost disappointed in him. A shame. "Yet I was unexpected?" She knew as much from his countenance at the lodge, but it is confusing. "How do you mean?"

"So had I," he laments, "It annoys me terribly to improvise in the midst of a plan. You were not my purpose at Wickham's Nest," he admits. "In truth I am curious how your husband is likely to react."

There is no visible rise to her brow, but perhaps he can hear it in the wry tone of her voice. "This does not shock me. Your words claimed as much as you entered the bedroom." Caught by the memory, she smoothes her skirts down the length of her legs. "Oh, I do not know. He will pay for my ransom, if you ask it of him," Yael says with a heaving sigh.

"Of all the words I've spoken thus far, I'd not expected those to rob my lady of her ire," he notes, curiosity tilting his tone. "Will he know that you are taken, by now? Will he care?"

"My marriage is not of your concern, my captor," Yael counters, cool edge returning to her tone. "Yes. He will mark my absence by now."

"There is the scorn I've grown so fond of," the knight comments, affected humor lightening his tone. "Do you tire of this game, Lady mine, or are you ready for your turn?"

"So fond in such a short time together? I'm flattered. It is not one of my most lauded traits," Yael counters, adding levity to her voice to match his. That edge remains, small but present. Her hooded head tips to the side in slight confusion, fingers smoothing again over her skirts. Regal as she sits, there is are slight signs that her state makes her nervous or that he does. It does not make her timid. "Your game asks me questions I know not the answers to. Although I wonder how you know so intimately of what was found — even as you laid it." Her fingers curl, red skirts between her fingers. "My turn?"

"Your turn," he affirms, "In which my lady may seek to outshine scorn with wit. You may ask three questions of me, to be answered truthfully, yea or nay." He stirs a chair and seats himself facing the regal prisoner.

Those neat edge fingers smooth out what she has wrinkled, fingers gliding over her skin and the fabric alike. "Any—" The thought dies unfinished on Yael's lips, unwilling to waste a question on a verification. "You are a noble son of a Reach House?"

A delighted laugh, brief but sharp as she catches herself and avoids a lost query. The sound of a savoring breath drawn through the nose, and after a languid pause, he answers, "Yea," with a smile audible in the words.

Yael nods at the confirmation of her thoughts. "Your business at the lodge, which you have tied my house into, it reflects your motivations against another house of the Reach. Not the Cockshaws. It would need to be someone greater…" These are not questions, not voiced as them, merely logic worked through aloud. "You selected Dorne because it is the easiest option to make seem guilty with the greatest amount of blood?"

Unseen, his grin deepens as she reasons out her line of thought. At the final query, Yael's captor chuckles warmly. "Nay, Lady mine… quite the opposite, in fact."

"And…" The word trembles, dragging through the air almost musically. It is careful. It is considered. "You will not harm me while I am in your keeping?" It is a small thing, but a reasonable if he is not presumed a liar. He did promise to answer simply: yea or nay. Yeal inclines her head towards the chair in askance.

"If I say yea, then I will not harm you while in my keeping.. my Lady must know that I would thus not be prohibited from having my men kill you in such a case," the knight points out. "If I say Nay, then I will hard you while in my keeping, in which case I would be forsworn if circumstance favored handling you gently. Thus, I will answer honestly, even though by my own rules I am not bound to." A mild creak of wood as he leans forward in the chair before Yael, "I have yet to decide."

"A difficult circumstance." Without seeing her expression it is impossible to judge whether that answer pleases her or not. "Then that is the kind of man you are." Yael's observation is calm, husky voice intimately quiet as close to each other as they may be. "We shall certainly both find out as you do." That comes out a little wry and a little cool.

"Isn't it?" the knight echoes to her comment of a difficult circumstance. "You know me so well, even after such a short time together? I am flattered," the Reachman paraphrases Yael's earlier words back to her, rising with a drawn breath, and merry words of parting, "Until we meet again, Lady mine, I do hope your stay is comfortable. When you again have the use of your eyes, you will find I've left you a token of my esteem. Good night."

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