(121-04-02) Net and Shield
Net and Shield
Summary: Juniper, born to House Grimm, meets Sylas, an ancestral foe.
Date: (02/04/2014)
Related: None


The air is thick and salty; some fishermen's mutter announce a thundersturm looming somewhere over Oldtown. The sun is already three-quarters under water, her last beams powerless and lethargic. One last boat arrives, almost empty, just a handful of silvery fishes entangled in the owner's net.

Leaning against a wall one pair of eyes admire the silvery treasure more than any others, a longing pair of eyes on a veiled face. Lady Juniper Meadows is wrapped in her silks, clinging to the cloth as though it would protect her from all the secret looks thrown at her, or the man at arms behind to her. Is is only a tiny sigil that speaks of her noble House, only a little blotch of green on his sword's hilt. A little blotch that seems to burn its way through her neck only by its presence.

At the head of the assortment of armed men who descend now from a sleekly alarming long serpentine vessel of war there struts a wiry, proud-miened warrior who, unlike the lady, displays a superfluity of sigils. Few of them, however, are his own. The Ironmen's captain has scythes at his wrist, a cockatrice at his shoulder, and a great many diminutive suns studding and obscuring the view of his own black leviathan. Lesser fish, such as those shimmering in the net, concern him but little - if he'd wanted them, he'd've taken them already, judging by his sneer.

But he seems in reckless high spirits, absently whistling a reaving tune as he leads his knot of men onward and inland. "Not too shoddy, boys. Reminds me of our Shielding days. Reckon we deserve a hogshead of this mouldering city's strongest wine," the Volmark declares, his voice rich with cheerful disdain.

It is not the noise of the men trickling down the docks, not the steps, not the boisterous laughter, but something about a single voice that makes Lady Juniper turn around wrapping her veils even closer. Maybe it is something about the accent that brings an uncomfortable tickle into her mind, but something about that uncomfortable tickle that speaks of sweet nostalgia. As soon as she spots him, it could not become more evident.

The voice belongs to an Iron Islander.
As well as his face, as well as the wiry shape covered in the wild assembly of sigils, as well as… for an instance she furrows her brows as her eyes fall on the silver vambraces on his arms.
Suspiciously she peers at the man-at-arms behind her, then at someone nearby that has the air of a guard around him. Their lack of concern brings yet another shade of suspicion into her mien. "How did that one end up here?" she asks her companion, while her gaze still lingers on the Iron Islander and his company.

"Strongwine is as strongwine tastes, cap'n, m'lord," one of the bolder-eyed of the Volmark's men cuts back, "but the sting o' the salt can leave a man wi' deeper thirsts." This hardened pirate, older, taller and burlier than his leader, stares about him without inhibition or discrimination, his black eyes skating dully over all the men, lingering speculatively on every woman, smallfolk, mercantile…

His lord has seized him by the hair and dragged his head sharply, painfully back. "Stop staring at the damsel in swaddling clothes, you fool. Anyone can see she has a noblewoman's bearing…and following. She's not for the likes of you, Hrald. Not till you've killed your way to a castle, and I've sailed mine back to my throne…"

"Salty words lead to salty wounds. I often heard the sound of the breaking bones and whimpers of your kin surging against the Shields. You should be glad my brother is not here to tell you more about it," the Lady snaps. The next moment she seems to be startled by her own words, by the old reflex that has, for an instance, won against her well-protected manners. She does not lower her gaze, however. Daringly she stares at the richly-clothed one of the men.

"But in the end you must be nothing but a mummer."

Releasing his disgruntled but chastened follower, Lord Sylas turns a slow, unwavering look in the direction he had just forbidden to the lesser reaver. He appears to be moderately surprised, but much more thoroughly amused.

"The life the greenlanders are led by their women, eh…I've met more of those with fire on their lips than I have among your vaunted lords of chivalry. But where is your brother then, my lady, and who? Some shielded lord of a rock not worth more than an autumn's reaping? Had I the pleasure of his acquaintance, I should, by his courtesy, prove it on his softlander body whether you looked upon a mummer, or Volmark of Volmark."

"You might call yourself Volmark as haughtily as you want, many of your kind have tried to get past my brothers, who still watch out for the tide around the Shield Islands to prevent offscums like you to get splashed ashore. Grimm they are called and they proved often enough that you can pray to your craken for ours - your dead bodies still float as anyone else's." Juniper replies, with a pride that seems to dispel the air of melancholy that has lingered about her, the air of softness and mildness. "But the Reachlords seem to have taught you some manners at least. Whose pet are you, who let you into this city?"

"I see where your kin found their name, my lady," Sylas observes wryly. "And I know them for fair seafolk, as far as flowerlings come. But rest assured, if I wanted…Grimston…I'd be sitting in it. And, mayhaps, so might you, if you did. It seems neither of us do, however, and here, instead, we are."

He laughs, an empty, truly mirthless, saddening bark. "And if I had learnt manners from you or your countrymen, my lady, you would hardly be complimenting me on 'em. I am here by the Greyjoy's word, and the Dragon King's…for that both of 'em fear me too much, whence I have come. And whence came my blood."

A last disdainful look at the Iron Islander's rather humble bunch of men is the only comment on his ambitious speech about her family's seat. A little shake of her head that seems to make her more and more convinced that she is dealing with a mummer's farce instead the dread of her youth. "They are treating you quite well, the dragons and the crakens, considering they must be shivvering whenever your name is mentioned," she offers with the hint of a sarcastic little smile.

"But indeed, I am here. And I haven't seen Greyshield for many years now, nor have I smelled the salty air of the sea. One gets to miss it somehow …with every vivid shade it offers."

"Nay, my lady. It is Lord Hightower who treats me so fair. He and his are a clan of rare wisdom. They have weft the royal court in a fishing net of marriages, and the dragons squirm within just like those argent fish, yonder. And these Hightowers, they appreciate the value of an alliance with Black Harren's heir. The world is a shiftless place, quite as much so on land as by sea. What was done," Lord Sylas insists with a wild, gleaming grin through his sharp, well-combed beard, "may be, betimes, undone."

"The Hightowers? Cunning creatures they are to tame this …big swimming beast you have on your sigil. Even if it is only for a little while," Juniper replies, now with a little flicker of genuine amusement growing in the depths of her clear voice. "Things getting undone… revenge can be quite a strenuous task, young man, believe me. But for now we shall retrieve to wherever we have to go and think about our dear islands on our own. A storm is approaching, you can taste it in the air," the lady remarks.

"Aye. And I like its savour," Lord Volmark retorts. "Come, Hrald, your various thirsts have remained unslaked too long. We weigh anchor, for a port more sympathetic, if less fair, than this well-edged lord's daughter of Grimston." And without any more ceremonious parting, he leads his raucous band off and onward.

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