(121-03-11) Garden Tales
Garden Tales
Summary: Ser Osric's squire and curious new servant Embry meet in the garden of the White Stone Manse, and Ashara graces them with stories; even bastards, smallfolk and princesses can have common ground.
Date: Date of play (11/03/2014)
Related: None

It's hot. What's more, it's raining lightly and the day is cast in a grayish gloom. It's not a grand day to be Dornish in Oldtown, but there's little to be done about that, and Tameron has opted not to fret, but simply to get on with it. To that end, he's sitting in the garden, the sleeves of his shirt rolled up past his elbows, as he carefully and meticulously sharpens one of Ser Osric's swords. Not 'Dawn', but another that he favors far less but which, regardless, must be ready if it should be needed. The sound of stone scraping rhythmically down steel is a soft, low, whistling whisper. A counterpoint to the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops falling onto foliage.

It's not the loveliest time to work in the garden, but drizzle in Oldtown is an occurence to be expected, and the servants must go on doing their duties. With nothing but a gentle twining of light brown braids to protect her from the moisture, Embry, the newest face to join the lowest ranks, flits here and there from one cluster of dewy flowers and plants to another, collecting dead leaves and pinching poor growths from the exotic stalks. It's an easy task, one a child could do; in true, she barely looks above such an age at a glance, her face ambiguously youthful. Even as she works, the girl is a bit starry-eyed; it rather gives her a constantly dumbfounded look as she carries about her mundane business, closer and closer to the sound of scraping metal. She sees Tameron, but hurries her glance down.

Tameron's glance, on the other hand, lifts as Embry comes into view, and the stone pauses halfway down the blade as its wielder considers the girl with her starstruck look and her braids. After a beat, he completes the stroke and then says, his voice quiet and his expression neutral, "You're Ser Osric's newest kicked puppy, aren't you."

Embry sort of freezes and keeps her gaze down when the young man speaks to her — inadvertently proving a 'kicked puppy' image. Sandy lashes blink several times, her mouth hovering around words that don't quite come straight away; she's determined that clearing away dead leaves from a potted, baby tree is more important because that's her job. Perhaps kicked mouse would be more apt, as the girl looks a small, meek thing— yet when she speaks, she's defiant. "I ain't a kicked puppy." She chances a look up, trying to assess just who Tameron is.

A corner of Tameron's mouth lifts in a smile that's bemused, but not really unkind. "Yes you are," he argues back at her as the stone slides down the sword again. "You're waiting to be kicked, right now."

Embry stares uncertainly at Tameron for a moment before she looks away, self-consciously rolling her shoulders back and tipping her rounded chin up. She manages to hold her head high and prim as she crosses the path to tend to the flora more or less in front of Tameron. Unfortunately, she has to crouch down and ruin her posture, turning her back and the plain fabric of her dress, skirts brushing wet grass and stone. "I'm new if tha's whatcha mean," she says, only a little argument in her voice. "Ser Osric was kind enough to take me on."

Tameron huffs a soft little laugh and nods, pressing his fingertip gently to the edge of the blade. When the skin splits and a bead of blood appears he nods and sets the stone aside. "Well. Welcome. I'm his squire, Tameron Sand."

Embry has warmed by the time she looks over her shoulder, offering the squire a youthfully sweet smile with a glimpse of slightly gapped, white, teeth. "Embry," she offers back, giving Tameron a nod that's as deep as she can manage over her shoulder. "So's that mean you came all the way from Dorne with 'im, then?" she queries with genuine interest, restraining her excitement 'til it's a subtle awe. In the girl's eyes, it's crystal clear that Tameron has been graced with some of Ser Osric's legend just by proxy.

"All the way," Tameron agrees with a solemn nod. His brows lift and that little half-smile appears. "You like Dorne, eh?" he wagers. "Well. What'd you like to know?"

"I think it sounds exciting, and it's got princesses," she says of Dorne with an eager sparkle in her eye, which jumbles into fleeting worry only to return to her prior optimism. "What is Starfall like?" No, no, she can ask a better question than that! Embry sits on her knees in the uneven pool of her dress, squirming. "Have you been on many adventures with Ser Osric! What's it like bein' the squire for the Sword of the Morning? Why do they call him the Sword of the Morning?"

Tameron opens his mouth to answer the first question, but then Embry flings out three more and the squire lifts his hand to rub his palm over the back of his neck. "Sure, plenty," he answers first, "It's good. He's a good man. One of the best. He got that name because he wields the ancestral Dayne sword 'Dawn', and because he stepped in to save the life of a Reachman who had yielded to his own cousin, who would not honor it."

Embry's smile is both awed and, more closer to earth, agreeing. The story sounds just like the kind Ser Osric she met. "He could never do anyfin bad against the kingdom," she's eager to state — rumours do circulate fast in servant's quarters. Remembering her job is to work and not listen to tales of a squire, she sinks a hand into a utilitarian pocket of her dress, which is otherwise meant to be fancy and fashionable as dull, poor fabric and numerous re-stitchings can manage. She retrieves a small trowel that she doesn't use just yet in favour of regarding Tameron expectantly for more answers.

"No, he never could," Tameron agrees with a small nod, "and he never will." And then he blinks back at Embry, seemingly fresh out of answers. Or, at least, in need of further prompting.

Even though Embry didn't need reassuring, already set in her brand new loyalty to Ser Osric, she beams to hear it. She takes Tameron's silence as an opportunity to ponder and go about her work, digging a small hole in the increasingly muddy earth to nourish it with the dead foilage she plucked. She does so with great care and precision, sprinkling the leaves like delicate petals, not getting her hands dirty. "What's it like," she pipes up, "bein' a squire? Travellin' with Ser Osric. It sounds like it'd be an adventure."

"It's hot," Tameron huffs with a small puff of a laugh, "and before coming here, it was dry, mostly. Dorne's more sand'n anything else, most places. Sure, it's an adventure, sometimes. Sometimes it's just dirty and tiring and long days. Like anything. Ain't no magic to it."

"Sometimes I try to picture that much sand," Embry admits readily. "Instead of fields 'n' grass. But the Reach has hills and trees and streams, it's hard to imagine, somewhere so dry, with real deserts!" She turns and bows her head to go on patting the damp, fertile dirt in the garden with the simple tool. "My brother used to tell me there's magic in hard work, 'cause you're making somethin' from nothing," she says, contemplative, smiling quickly back at Tameron before getting back to work, "and eventually. you'll turn into a knight, right?"

"Eventually," Tameron agrees, pushing increasingly wet hair from his face without seeming to mind the way it drips, now, or the water that clings to cheek and nose. "Your brother, huh? He sounds all right."

"Half… brother," Embry corrects herself somewhat awkwardly; all chased away with the brightness of her smile, a beaming expression truly too big for her small face. "He's more'n all right. He's the greatest. The best," she says as she pushes to her feet, briefly pressing her arm to her forehead to use her sleeve as a towel against the rain. She drifts a few feet past to touch a tall flower, admiring its beauty and checking in on its needs. She looks to Tameron in the midst, her mouth opening and closing again with a question she doesn't voice.

"Oh?" Tameron asks, brows lift with interest. "Huh. Well, where is he, then? How is it he's not here helping you garden, if he's so fine?" And then his head cants a little to a side like a curious spaniel. "What?"

"He's not a servant," Embry replies, a simple fact, placing no shame on her own role nor anything loftier upon her brother whose place must lie elsewhere. She crouches and fusses with some leaves. "Um…" she stalls, suddenly shy again, apologetic for a question she hasn't even asked. "I were just— it's nuffin'. Sometimes I ask too many questions…"

"Yeah, I sorta guessed that about you," Tameron replies, setting the sword down on the bench beside him and watching as Embry continues to garden in the rain. "You might as well ask, now. I won't mind."

Embry stands up and, turning to Tameron again, fidgets with the handle of her muddy garden tool, which drips predictably onto the path in front of her, threatening the hem of her dress. "You're called Sand." Hardly a question, but there's a nervously prompting, curious tone to the girl's young, slightly gravelly little voice.

Tameron sighs softly, leaning forward so that he can drape his arms on his knees. Slouching forward in this manner, he peers up at Embry with eyes made muddy by the overcast sky and the way his wet hair hangs down in front of them. His brows lift in subdued query. "And…?"

"That's like Flowers," Embry ventures with a hint of question, lifting thin brows just a tad, "but for Dorne," she fishes, nervous about prying too much into the life of the squire she just met despite her curiousity. "So by blood then, you're like half noble…?"

"Yes. Like Flowers," Tameron agrees. He shrugs, giving his head a quick shake and sending water spattering. "Suppose so," he agrees, though one can't say he sounds especially pleased or proud of this fact.

"I always hoped I was secretly a Flowers, or a Hill, or a Storm, or anyone really," Embry admits, wistful in contrast to Tameron and instantly shy about it, ducking her head. "You prob'ly have work to get back to," she says in a hurry — a hurry to be polite.

"Probably," Tameron agrees, though he seems in no hurry. He's still on a bench in the garden, despite the heat and the drizzle, with one of Ser Osric's swords resting beside him, freshly sharpened. He's speaking with Embry who is one part asking questions and one part gardening. "Why would you want a thing like that?"

Ashara is also interested in gardening, it seems, a few small bowls under her arm as she makes her way into the garden. In deference to the concern of the household knights, she's curtailed some of her expeditions into the city in search of new books until some of the recent conflicts are resolved, and is instead diagnosing everyone left in the house with something or other that needs some sort of treatment or another, which means she needs to gather more supplies to treat all of the imaginary minor ailments.

"Because I never met my father, 'n' it'd be better to find out he's someone special, rather'n nobody," Embry replies, both insistent toward her line of thinking and nervous to state it. She goes into an immediate hush when she realizes Ashara has graced the garden with her presence, and goes into an immediate, deep, slightly overeager curtsey, regardless of the side effect of dripping muddy water on her dress from her trowel. The servant girl has her priorities.

Tameron opens his mouth to reply, but before he can, he catches sight of Ashara. He stands and offers her a bow, because that's what a knight (or a knight in training) ought to do when a noble lady enters the room… er… garden. "Princess," he greets. "Bit wet for picking herbs, isn't it?"

"It's a bit wet for breathing, but I don't see that changing here any time soon," Ashara replies to Tameron with a wry smile, picking her way past a few puddles and peering at Embry when the girl curtseys. "Well, we've got that out of the way, then," she she says warmly, her voice a low alto that carries the lazy rhythms of Dorne. "You can save those for when there's company, love. But as we're living here, it seems it would be counterproductive to be doing it every time we pass, no?"

"As you please, m'lady princess," the girl replies on her rise (not quite solid on how to greet anyone of Dorne, yet, she's covering her bases), polite as can be with a thread of eager excitement running through her voice — and the shine in her eye. She glances at the bowl Ashara carries. "The gardens here are lovely," she adds with a touch of nerves to be still talking at all, but sincerity all the same, "even in the rain."

"Breathing's less a choice than picking herbs," Tameron points out helpfully, plopping back down onto the bench, his clothes wet enough to squelch faintly when he does so. He lifts a hand and gestures towards Embr. "She's partial to Dorne, or to the idea of it, anyway. Have you any tales of back home that you might be willing to share, princess?"

"Well, Gareth's babe has a bit of a cough," Ashara informs Tameron, setting her bowls on a bench near the herbs and picking out a small one, along with a small knife. "So I thought I might at least make an ointment for her. It's that or dare the world outside, and I've a feeling Ser Osric would be more comfortable if I didn't slip out the back on my own," she adds with a wry smile, looking to Embry again at his question. "There are hundreds of tales of home," she laughs. "You may have to be more specific."

Embry shoots a mildly horrified look at Tameron, but brings those rounded, mild blue eyes back to Ashara with only a hint of the expression; the girl appears wide-eyed and faintly stricken. "U-um, ah— I— " She's struck speechless over her very favoured topic of stories. "I l-like all tales." She gestures at the squire with her trowel. "Surely T-Tameron has a suggestion. We were just talking of those concerning Ser Osric." She swipes a strand of damp hair that's escaped her braid away from her forehead and lifts her brows at Ashara. "Would you like any help choosing some herbs for Sarya, princess?"

Tameron smiles faintly as Embry becomes flustered, and he swipes water from his face as he considers. "How about a tale of Sunspear, princess? I think she'd like you hear of the city well enough, and my words aren't so fine as yours."

Ashara arches a brow at Embry's offer of help, then turns the knife in her hand to offer it to the girl by the handle. "Why don't you pick a few, and I'll see if I agree?" she suggests, settling onto the bench to watch. "As for a tale of Sunspear," she muses, smoothing a hand over her skirts. "Well, there are many, of course. But what interests you? Romance? Adventure? Intrigue?"

Embry takes the knife with an easily agreeable smile and respectful nod. She hurries straight for a patch of herbs — she may be shiny and new, but she has clearly already mapped the garden. She kneels gently, sets her trowel down. "Well…" she contemplates very carefully, "I think…" she runs her fingertips over the assorted herbs ponderously. "the best tales…" she smiles over at Tameron and Ashara. "have all three."

Tameron laughs and then offers a small shrug towards Ashara. Who is he to argue with such a point? "I am sure you know a story or two like that, don't you, princess?"

"Which of my father's mistresses would you like to hear about, then?" Ashara laughs ruefully, tucking her feet up beneath herself as she gets comfortable. "Though for all three of those things, you'd likely need at least two of them. My father, Prince Quentyn, is somewhat notorious throughout Dorne," she explains. "It gives my mother no end of frustration, but it provides the rest of the realm with ample entertainment."

Embry's face alights with surprise at Ashara's candor and her smile turns more lop-sided. "I seee," she replies with a giggle just under her voice. As she listens rapt for further tales of this Prince Quentyn and his mistresses — or, really, anything — she contemplates the herbs just as carefully, snipping a few fresh sprigs from a few different plants between the knife's thin blade and her work-worn thumb.

Tameron leans his weight back on his hands and stretches out his legs as he listens. "How about your favorite story about him, then, Princess? Something you'd enjoy telling."

"My favorite story isn't so interesting as all that," Ashara shakes her head with a wry smile. "We actually went camping not long before my first wedding. My mother thought it was absurd, but my father has always done as he pleased, and so he did then as well. He spent the night giving me all sorts of advice about marriage and people, most of which my mother would have disagreed with most strongly. But it was…nice. I sometimes wondered if he didn't prefer to spend time with his other children, just because spending time with me meant dealing with my mother. It was nice to have him to myself for a bit."

Embry's herb gathering slows unconsciously until she's left with a bundle of greenery and her hands in her lap, her gaze soft, wistful and wondering; moved, even. Thoughtful. After a moment, she gets to her feet. "I thought that was really nice, princess," she says, and means it, even if there wasn't any adventure, romance, or intrigue. She holds out the herbs in one hand, rather like a green bouquet. "These're what I'd mix up for my sisters when they had a cough. Always worked, when they were babies."

"Sister and a brother? How many sib-… half-siblings have you got, Embry?" Tameron asks with a small laugh. And then a sneeze. He tips his head up, squinting at the rain as he sniffs thoughtfully. "May be I've had enough of the wet," he muses quietly.

Ashara reaches out to take the gathered herbs from Embry, looking through them with a small smile. "A good place to start, I think," she approves after a moment, running the leaves between her fingers. "And likely as good as I'll get in our garden here, without going out for more. Which," she laughs, "Is probably just as well. Gareth would probably object to anything more." She quirks a brow at Tameron, a warning sort of look at that sneeze. "Maybe you have," she agrees.

"Five," Embry answers Tameron cheerfully, only to correct herself with a furrowed brow, "I mean, four. It is getting a bit wet isn't it," she carries on like nothing, handing the knife back to the princess handle-first, just like it was given, smiling for the approval of her herb selections. "If you need anyfin else though, princess, I could go make a run, no one'd look at me twice out there."

"Before you start stuffing herbs down my gullet," Tameron agrees, standing and collecting Ser Osric's sword. "That's a handful all right," he says of Embry's many siblings. He pushes hair back from his face one more time. "Think I'll take my leave before overhear anything Ser Osric wouldn't approve of." He smiles faintly and offers Ashara another bow and Embry a nod.

"Wise of you," Ashara smirks at Tameron before looking back to Embry. "No, this is probably more than I need, honestly," she shakes her head. "I enjoy doing things with herbs, making medicines. It keeps me busy, and I find it interesting."

"It was nice to meet you, Tameron," Embry says as she nods to the departing squire. "I only know a few old remedies, but it's a lovely craft, princess," she agrees with Ashara, folding her hands neatly in front of her slightly muddied gown. "It's so kind of you to help Gareth's babe." A servant's babe, more to the point.

"I'm not sure Gareth will agree," Ashara laughs softly, shaking her head. "But we were on the same ship coming here," she explains. "It was a long trip from Sunspear, and there wasn't really anyone to see to the children while he was working so…" She trails off, shrugging slightly. "I've lost my own children," she explains. "So if I'm entirely honest with myself, it's a little selfish of me, trying to reclaim something I've lost. But as no harm comes by it, I can't consider it a bad thing."

"I'm sorry, princess." Embry's condolences are simple and true, no formality, only the wish that she could say something more; all she has is some manner of understanding: "I lost one of my sisters, she was only little." Her smile is small, sad; she moves on from it. She's rather nervous about talking so much with a princess — a remarkable oddity to her small world — but pushes on with her pure intentions, "I think you're right. Any help is good help if it comes from a good spot. And to tell the truth, princess— who wouldn't be selfish around that Sarya." She gives a toothy little smile, "she's a charmer, I think."

"Isn't she?" Ashara sighs, smile flickering. "Symeon is a credit to his father as well. It's good to have children in the house." She pauses, looking down to the herbs in their bowl. "And I should likely see about putting these together," she admits, stacking the bowls neatly once more. "Else I'll catch another cold myself. I'm sorry, I don't believe I caught your name," she adds, looking back with a small smile.

The servant's agreeing nods evolve into a deeper bow of her chin as the princess begins to take her leave from the garden. "It's Embry."

"Embry," Ashara repeats, nodding once such that it's clear she's committing it to memory. "Well, it has been a pleasure, Embry," she says with a small, warm smile. "I'm sure our paths will cross again." And with that, she unfolds herself from the bench, gathering her things to return upstairs.

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