(121-04-05) The Promise of Blood
The Promise of Blood
Summary: Yael's captor tells her of the trial by blood to come. The Trial of the Seven.
Date: 05/04/2014
Related: Wickham's Nest In particular, The Razing of Wickham's Nest and An Esteemed Guest proceed it.

The hour is bright, some days removed from the last rain, which has left the world outside Yael's windows lush and verdant, with wildflowers sprouting in shades of blue and purple. The routine timetable of changing guards and delivered food with wine is disrupted with the unexpected arrival of a horse and rider, the unseen front door to the cottage opening, with jovial words exchanged.

It is a untouched world beyond those small paned windows that kindly allow light inside. Her days are ever routine with the rise of the sun, the delivery of foods, and the fall of its light — although never has the cottage been so well ratted. The small snake she has carried with her over the sands and through her kidnapping grows with the easy meals. The tiny denizens of the forest unsuspecting of its strong coils and endless stomach.

The arrival of a rider is enough to prompt her to look up from her book, one of the few that mark the shelves, and angle it so it simply doesn't seem Yael is watching the door. Although, she is. Seated at the table with her back to the fire and the book in hand, long dark hair soft and neat as she can manage and garbed in one of the pale linen gowns, she almost seems comfortable. Still, she waits.

A sudden round of laughter from the front room follows some unknown jest. Footsteps approach Yael's chamber, and the door is unlatched and opened without preamble by one of the now-familiar rotation of guards, carrying the now-familiar sack that accompanies visits of the lady's captor.

"Oh joy. To what do I owe the honor, my Lord Captor?" Yael wonders dryly, the sands of the desert sharpening the edge of her husky words. She knows well enough by now that he'll be in ear shot at the sight of that all-too familiar sack. Without preamble, she extends a hand so that she might put it on for them to tie. Her snake curls around a slim ankle, hissing at the interruption that causes its warm perch to shift.

She is swiftly proven correct as the merry reply is given from the front room, "I thought you might enjoy a stroll in the sunshine, Lady mine," as the sack is handed over with the customary wariness toward the hissing snake. This time, in fact, the wariness is such that the sack is left unknotted around her neck. As the guard's steps withdraw, the unseen jailer comments from the doorway, "I was right: white is definitely your color."

Yael draws her fingers along the unbound cords, rising slowly and with undue elegance from her seat. The simple furniture is treated as a throne. "I would not dismiss it, my Lord Captor. However, I do believe you'll need to guide me under the circumstances." She cannot see. "For your descriptions of the forest are certain to be most edifying." There is a bag over her head, after all. At his compliment, she sketches a low curtsy that neatly channels her disdain and etiquette all at once. "I cannot say I am partial to it myself, but it is well you approve of your choice."

A bemused chuckle stirs in his throat at her theatrics and speech. "Oh, you couldn't tell, but I bowed back to the curtsey, just now," he notes with audible humor. "Your hand, Lady mine?" he prompts.

She does not comment on his bow, for she does not see it and in many parts does not believe it. Yael offers her hand with an inclination of her head and a grudging extension. "Of course." Her nails are long and delicate, skin kept clean and well in captivity. The gold snake of her bracelet gleams against the deep dusk of her skin.

The unseen knight's hand is calloused and rough to the touch as she is led out of the bedchamber one unhurried step at a time. "So, refresh my memory, Lady mine: in what state was the world when last we spoke? So much has happened, I scarcely know where to begin." A gust of fresh air wafts through the cottage from the open front door ahead, as Yael is led into the front room.

Yael's own steps are taken with a particular care, not trusting his guidance to save her from hazards that might lead her to trip. "Last we spoke, we played guessing games once more. You, a Reach Lord, commited undue slaughter of another house perhaps threatening more on the others," she recalls calmly, as if this was simply gossip. "From the count of days, my husband is certainly look ing for me by now. What else is new of the world, I have yet to hear." Regale her, her tone challenges.

"Undue?" the Reach lord echoes, affecting a thin veil of indignance. "I hardly think you know my motives well enough to judge that slaughter undue," he protests, with an edge of laughter. "After all, in addition to my intended object, I have carried off quite a remarkable prize." Out through the doorframe ind into the open air, fresh grass beneath her feet. "As for the world, the Red Rookery has been sacked. Ser Ryon Blackmont slain together with the fighting men of his household and a goodly number of his smallfolk." Spoken with the same edge of gossip.

"I with all conscience do not know your motives well enough to judge the extent of your slaught just either," Yael counters lightly, as if they were talking about a faux pas in manners. The slaughter of children does not fall on the side of just in the least. "Did you? Whatever was it?" That prize. Quieting a moment, one of his presumed prizes inhales deeply of the open air and the grass beneath her feet as she tips her head back up to soak in sunshine that she can only feel. She will not acknowledge that it is her. "Ah, Ser Ryon. A pity, he was ever so much a fine dancer." She swallows any grief, if there is any, firming her jaw against the news. "It will take some time to refortify the Red Rookery."

"Oh, I make no claims of justice," he lilts back to Yael's first comment. "A fate can be wholly deserved without being just." As to his prize, the knight laughs again, in the back of his throat. "My prize? Surely the Lady can guess.. Shall I describe her for you?" His hand slips out of hers, and the Dornishwoman's captor circles behind her slowly, speaking as he goes, "Her limbs are long and graceful, dark and duskier than any I've seen before. Her every curve is downright.. sinful. She has a deadly poise and speaks elegant but wicked barbs with every breath."

"And what of the fate of the dead?" Yael wonders almost idle in her thoughts, hand placid as her voice in his hold. The house that stood to die for some unnecessary machination. Her steps still, stopping, as her captor releases her hand to circle slowly around her. "She sounds…devastating, I should like to meet her," she offers, folding her hands at her waist gracefully.

"The dead? Why, they died of course. That was their fate," he quips back, lightly. Steps pausing at her back, the lady's latter comment is answered with a wry, "I'm rather sure you already have." The knowing words are punctuated with a simple, "So be it," and the sack drawn over her head is drawn off. Sunlight and wildflowers greet her eye at first, a few low hillocks surround her, and standing behind her- smiling through a artfully wrought green leather mask that obscures him above the lip, is her captor, holding the black-limber dragonbone longbow that had of late belonged to one Eryk Cockshaw.

It is almost blinding, that sudden burst of slight after near absolute darkness, causing Yael to lift a hand to shield her eyes from the immediacy of it. Fingers still pressing against her cheek, she blinks and squints into it as her vision returns. Her gaze slides aslowly over the landscape before fixing more certainly on her captor. From the breadth of his shoulders, to that smile, to the cut of his features she takes in his measure in a manner that might be considered flattering. At least, if not for the sharpness of her gaze. The bow garners her interest last, dark brows rising along with a quirk of her scarred upper lip. "So I do. She was in other hands when I saw her last."

"I thought that since neither of you have had the opportunity to enjoy the open air, you and she might stretch your legs together," the knight, dressed in hunting leathers, with a quiver hanging at his belt, relates, running a hand over the bow, and testing the weight of the draw with three fingers on the bowstring. "As well, you will have a fresh trio of questions, if my lady has prepared them?"

The slight winnowing of Yael's shoulders, unconditionally caused by her unfashionable headdress disappears with its removal. Her shoulders straighten, body possessing more and a more confident space in the open. She goes so far as to offer her captor an almost pleased smile. Still, her dark gaze hitches on the bow in his hands and look for a quiver at his side. "So we shall…" Stretch their legs and their curves. "Shall we walk to ensure it then, my Lord Captor." She gestures towards the gentle curves of the trees with a crook to her smile which renders her question a statement. It would not do to waste one. "Where have you ventured since I saw you last?"

"I have been many places, but your three questions must be answered yea or nay, Lady mine." the knight muses aloud, as he glances toward the trees Yael indicates. A gives a half grin back at the Dornishwoman as he draws out an arrow: poplar shafted and fletched with white goose feathers. Setting the horn nock of the missile to stout bowstring, he notes, "Just a moment," Straining shoulders and back as he draws the nock back to his ear, arms visibly shaking with the unfamiliar strength of the bow's pull, before loosing the arrow at the tree. "Now, shall we walk after it?"

"That was not a stipulation you stated, my Lord Captor. I shall be taken to correct the game adequately," Yael agrees amiably, lifting her brows as he draws an armor. A graceless breath is exhaled when it is not — in fact — pointed at her. It would ruin their game of questions and answers, after all. "We shall." She takes off that way, only a step ahead and only briefly, lifting her skirts so that the grass brushes at her ankles. "Were you at the Red Rookery on its slaughter?"

"Whether it was or was not, it now is," the knight notes lightly to the newness of his stipulation. With her new question, he glances back aside at Yael, as the two walk toward the tree. He draws a second arrow lazily from the quiver and sets it to string, holding it in place with a forefinger gripping shaft to bow. "Hmm," he muses, judging the question and its asker. "Yea," he answers after a calculated moment.

The edge of her mouth tips upward pleasantly, angling to count her questions. Still three then. Very well. Lashes dark and sharp brush over her cheeks, Yael's equally dark eyes regarding him as he looks to her. It falls to the slide of his fingers along the string and shaft, sure and even. "Has there been any contact from my Husband to the Reach Lands?" She calculates, hazarding a second guess.

"Yea," he answers the second query readily, glancing away from the lady and toward the mark of his first shot, but leaving the second arrow nocked as they approach the tree. "Damnation," he murmurs, upon sighting the stark white of the fletchings in the bark. The shot had been off-center, and pierced the trunk through the tip of steel bodkin emerging from the back of the bark on the far side.

"Impressive," Yael muses, angling slowly around the tree to regard that emerging tip of the still bodkin. "I do not believe that one will be returning to your quiver." Leaving him to examine it further, she slips a little deeper allong the path with a rustle of her skirts. A knot of flowers seem to catch her attention for a moment, with a bee working readily into the pink flowers. "Is he to attack?" She wonders lightly, still as if this is a common topic. Her finger is draw along a petal, inspecting it.

"HmmmmMMMmmm," the Reach lord muses aloud, more lyrically than his first hesitation. "I would say yea. Which begs a question in return.." He idly tugs without any success on the bodkin emerging from the back of the tree and simply snapping it off a moment later, dropping the steel arrowhead into his quiver for later re-mounting. A glance aside at Yael, "Would the lady be pleased or perturbed were her husband to be killed?"

"By the count of the game you may have three," Yael says, her words directed at the flowers. She does not look to him as he does to her. "Perturbed, of course." That is the correct answer, although it is up to him to divine the truth in it. Rising, she smiles at him with courtly calm. "He is my husband."

"HmmmmMMMmmm," the Reach lord muses aloud, more lyrically than his first hesitation. "I would say yea. Which begs a question in return.." He idly tugs without any success on the bodkin emerging from the back of the tree and simply snapping it off a moment later, dropping the steel arrowhead into his quiver for later re-mounting. A glance aside at Yael, "Would the lady be pleased or perturbed were her husband to be killed?"

"By the count of the game you may have three," Yael says, her words directed at the flowers. She does not look to him as he does to her. "Perturbed, of course." That is the correct answer, although it is up to him to divine the truth in it. Rising, she smiles at him with courtly calm. "He is my husband."

Yael's captor shrugs, "He is. However, some wives have a preference in such matters and I thought it only polite to ask." His easy smile and small laugh indicate awareness of the irony in the words. "One way or another, Lady mine, I expect your fate will be decided rather soon."

Yael lifts her brows pleasantly, sliding her hands along her skirts as she rises from her low bend towards the ground. "Mine has been stated. All things considered, you'll have to forgive me that I prefer that he lives," she opines mildly, tension flitting into her tone. "Oh?"

"Yes, indeed," the knight notes to her last, not dwelling on the former. "Second question: was he fond of Ser Ryon Blackmont, beyond what is expected of a kinsman?" Musing with the query, he checks the tip on the nocked bodkin, pressing to one side to correct a very slight warp in the shaft.

"Arnau was reasonably fond. He was simply a cousin, but they hunted," Yael offers blithely, gaze flicking to the bodkin and the bow in his hands. She affects not to notice his fussing just as quickly, taking the most of this time to stretch her legs in the woods.

"Third question:" the knight voices, absent-mindedly, in the tone of an afterthought. "Will he fight for you himself?" Apparently satisfied with the state of his arrow, he returns its nock to the string, idly running a thumb along the string and returning his eye to Yael with a smile at the query.

"I fail to see how he might when he does not know whether I am alive or dead," Yael answers after a moment of thought, her mouth pressing into a line. The sunlight through the trees better revealing the wicked scar in her upper lip. "He'll fight for his dead. I imagine…he would fight for me."

"Would he not fight for you if still alive? Or not if you had died? Lady mine, I may slay women and children, but your husband sounds rather cruel," the knight notes with a wry smile and a small chuckle. "But no matter," it is dismissed with a half shrug. "What a curious place you must find yourself in: if this climax turns against me, if I have miscalculated… then no one will ever find you. My lady must hope for my victory in order to survive, how odd that must be."

"You twist my words." It is a neat summary but a true one. Yael's cruel mouth skews with a crooked smile, her hand falling to her hip with a cock. "How can a man fight for a woman when he knows not where she is to be found?" It is more rhetoric than true question, she expects no answer from him. Sighing on a low breath, she drags her hand along the lithe arm of a tree. "And yet… If you should survive and your victory be named paramount, I may yet still die but my family should be slaughtered. It is a most peculiar situation." Plucking a leaf off a tree, she presses it to her mouth. "Have you any last words you need to confess, my Lord Captor?"

"That is the question my lady ought ponder in my absence," the knight returns knowingly to her rhetorical question. To her next thought, he nods, "A delicious irony, I think." As to the last, his head tilts slightly, and the Reach lord considers a long moment. "Hmmm. I've met someone. Does that count as a confession?" A merry edge colors the jest. "But no, confessions would require regrets, and I make a point to avoid those."

A smile that is more of a smirk on her mouth, Yael lets the leaf drop. "I am no philosopher." The green leaf sails gently to the ground, floating around her pale skirts. It is not particular irony, in truth. There is little love of him in her gaze as she regards him, expression tight at the corners. "A pity I will not get to see the battles fought." A touch of heat slips into her voice at the thought, before she turns on a heel with a swing of her hips. "Only if you've done anything interesting about it…"

"As I said, I make a habit of avoiding regrets," the knight quips back to Yael's last, head carried at an uneven angle as his eye lingers on the Dornishwoman. As to missing the battles, "I'll be sure to have a minstrel prepare a song, describing it for you; the next best thing, really."

"Then it must have been of interest. From what I have heard the women of Westeros often don't merit it," Yael muses, flipping her hair back over her shoulder. It lifts and falls in a sinew of movement, along with the swing of her hips as she walks through the trees. "I do not believe you would tell it all to a minstral," she observes, eyes sharp.

"Well," he allows on the subject of telling all, "Only the fun parts." A short chuckle. "The women of Westeros have a marked deficiency in poisoned former lovers, it is true. But in truth, perhaps Lady mine has not met the right Westerosi women. Or perhaps I have not met the right Rhoynar, who can say?"

"If one leaves a lover interested there is no need of poison. It only shows poor form or no way out from it," Yael assesses, stroking a hand along her hair. It seems so terribly gauche to her. "Obviously you have not."

"Yes, but interest can slip into jealousy all too easily, and gods smite me down if there is anything more tedious than a jealous lover," the knight laments dryly. "Ugh, it's enough to make a man want to just… kill them all, isn't it?"

"As I am not a man, I would not know," Yael offers simply, smiling as she bends to inspect some wriggling grass.

As she bends, Yael can hear the telltale creak of the dragonbone bow being bent for a moment, followed by the distinct scream of an arrow tearing through the air. This time, her captor has shot for distance, testing the ranging ability of the great relic bow. The arrow is nearly lost to the eye, if not for the clean white fletchings, and even then, it is long moments in the air before arcing slowly back to verdant earth. "Yes, I;m sure my lady has no notion of how men think or behave," he quips with a smiling sardonic edge.

There is an instant where her breath catches and the muscles of her spine tense. A certainty that this might be the arrow that is destined to bury itself viciously in her back. When it doesn't. When it sails clean and far, nearly lost to the eye and buried deeper into the woods, Yael lets out the breath she was holding. "You are a mystery," she offers, smooth husk of her voice curling over the words without falter. He is. Men are, perhaps.

"It's the mask. I'm told women love them," he quips back to her admission, not bothering to conceal his amusement as she tenses ans lets out her held breath. "But really, Lady mine: men are not complicated creatures, nor are women. Some, admittedly, are slightly more complex than others, but those are rare." A smile and glance back at Yael. "All. Too. Rare."

"That must be it." The mask. "Certainly I am certain I was never so fetching as with a bag over my head," Yael suggests easily, features cooling at his obvious amusement. As if she is ever more than luke warm with a warning of heat, but a regal coolness comes easily to her. Her captor's statement only causes her to angle her head a little. "That is true enough, I cannot argue it."

"Never more mysterious, at least. Oh, the myriad possibilities!" her captor laments aloud again, with good humor only thinly veiled by the complaint. "I was idly curious whether you would slip the sack yourself when it were left unbound, this time," he admits. "And once I leave, the mystery will settle again: will word come for you, or will it not? Will news be fair, or foul? Is my Lady fond of puzzles?"

" I am no Faceless Man, my Lord Captor." Yael's mouth quirks at the very idea, dismissing it endtirely. "It seems your curiosity was rewarded with an answer. I did not." At least, she did not in the time it took for him to reveal himself. "That is not a puzzle, it is a riddle. Puzzles, I enjoy. They have pieces on the board and moves to measure, riddles can be all lies."

"Then I am the puzzle, posing a riddle. I hope you have enjoyed the game, such as it is," the Reach lord returns, noting idly, "Every shot will cost me an arrow I can't have back. I'll need to prepare better for the next round of shooting, I think."

"It has it moments," Yael observes, angling her head to regard the path the arrow took. "Every shot does. It is a fine bow."

"Lesser bows allow arrows to be recovered," he notes, musing on the subject. "The shot can't be had back, but the bolt can be recovered. Shot a second time. But this bow- fine as it is-" A shake of the head. "It is nearly too strong. It cannot be fired at a beast or it would fly wholly through. The same for a man or a woman. It is an instrument that destroys what it fires, hit or miss."

Winding her way with light steps back towards her captor, Yael regards the bow with indelicate interest. She has hunted some herself. "It is not meant for a simple hunt, although if you shoot at a man or a woman you should be ready to see them dead." It is only common sense. "It is made for greater beasts of which we have few. Not just for meat."

"More's the pity," the Reach knight sighs at the shortage of great beasts. "But so be it, dragonbone is patient, it will remain, a thousand years if it must to take it's due measure of destiny. Alas that we mere mortals can't afford the same patience, hmm?" A smile beneath the mask. "If the lady's exercise is concluded, I think we ought see you back to your cottage. Eventful days are ahead, after all."

"It is why sons are born to see destiny through and houses hold, my Captor." Their mortal time is only so quickly spent. Yael does not smile, looking towards the greenery around them for a finally piece of it to hold to her memory. "Very well," she agrees, offering him her hand.

"Or to see them fall," he amends to her statement on the destiny of sons. The extended hand is taken, and the Reach lord and Dornishwoman resume their steps back toward her gilded cage.

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