(121-04-16) A Light on the Path
A Light on the Path
Summary: Leire visits Mariya at the White Stone Manse. They speak of the Trial, the betrothal, Leire's premonition and the Crone's Wisdom
Date: 4/16/2014
Related: In Blood, Truth, The Father Above

Second Floor - White Stone Manse - Starry Street

It is a summer day. The weather is hot and overcast.

This second floor corridor is well lit from wide windows, one at the streetside end of the hall and a set of double glass-paneled doors leading out to the balcony that overlooks the garden. A number of doors lead to bedchambers and sitting rooms. The walls are snowy white, decorated with a few tapestries and paintings depicting Dornish sandsteeds.

The White Stone Manse has had much activity since the Trial. Still dressed in her mourning colors, Mariya attends her sister and her children most of the time. For the rest, she has been arranging as much as she can for the release of the Dornish knights held under ransom as well as the arrangements for Ser Osric to be sent back to Starfall with Dawn. For now, however, she sits with her sister.

A visitor comes calling to the manse, as no doubt a score have in the bustle of the past week, but this one may come rather unexpectedly. Preceded by a servant who announces her to Mariya dutifully, Leire enters the hall and inclines her head to the princess respectfully, but waits to be addressed in the event her visit may yet prove unwelcome.

The servant that knocks on Ellia's door is met by Mariya herself. She listens to the whispered introduction and then nods once. With a glance over her shoulder to her sister, she slips out the door and shuts it softly behind her. Now in the hall, the princess gives the septa a weak smile, "Septa Leire, welcome." She dismisses the servant and then moves down the hallway for her own room, indicating that the woman should follow.

"Hello, Princess," replies Leire, indeed following as Mariya leads her through the corridor, her hands folded neatly in front of her. "I apologize for the intrusion, but I wished to offer my condolences to your family for its loss. My thoughts have wandered to you more than once in the past week."

"No, it is not an intrusion. Forgive me, I did say I would return either in joy or in sorrow. But, I confess, that I did not believe the sorrow would be so great." They reach her door in short time and Mariya opens it and steps inside, holding it open for the Septa. "Thank you for your kindness. My family is devastated by the loss of Ser Osric. He was a good man and a true knight."

Following Mariya over the threshold of her room, Leire studies the girl thoughtfully, wearing an empathetic expression of concern. "The Sword of the Morning leaves a swath of sorrow in the wake of his loss," she agrees. "There is no need to apologize. I expect you find yourself pulled every which way this past week."

"Yes." Mariya shuts the door behind them, leaving them alone to speak. "I have taken the arrangements so my sister can properly grieve. She and her husband had great love." The Princess turns to study Leire properly for the first time. "Forgive me, again, Septa, but I do have a question that has nothing to do with faith. When we left each other, you told me something that I did not understand. But now, I must ask. How did you know? 'The Dragon Tail may yet pierce the Sun'."

"A terrible loss. I will light a candle to the Mother for her, that she may feel Her comforting hand laid upon her as she grieves, in addition to your own loving one." Leire seems somber in her sympathy, but when the parting words of their last meeting are mentioned, she brightens marginally. "That's right. Forgive me for neglecting to offer my congratulations along with my condolences, Princess. Will a wedding help to cheer your spirits?"

"I will hope it will soothe her, but I fear the Gods have left us." Perhaps not the smartest thing to say to a Septa, but Mariya does not seem to care. "I thank you for the kindness, though. I do appreciate it and I know my sister would, as well." As for the wedding, the princess gives a bit of a smile, though it is not a happy one. "No, I would prefer to keep the congratulations separate from condolences. The fact that this marriage announcement was made so soon after Ser Osric's death was not a kindness to me." In fact, the death and the announcement was within minutes of each other.

"It often seems so, in our darkest moments," Leire muses, seeming to echo the sentiment rather than take offense to it. "May I?" she asks, indicating one of the Princess's chairs before folding herself into it, arranging the skirts of her robe as she seats herself. "No, I suppose it wasn't," she says, about it not having been a kindness. "But life follows death. It is the way of things. I'm inclined to think it portents well." She doesn't elaborate, but speaks easily enough on the subject that she's like to, if pressed.

"Oh, of course, forgive me. My manners are a bit lacking lately." Mariya gestures for her to sit and does so as well in a nearby chair. "Perhaps, but as there is a year before the actual marriage ceremony, perhaps it could have been announced after the death of Ser Osric was not quite so fresh." However, the woman does not seem to wish to dwell on the manner of her engagement, instead more interested in the subject of portents. "How do you mean, if I may ask?"

"I understand," Leire says sympathetically. "One imagines an auspicious announcement like an engagement to be made in a grand hall, not in the stands. And please, do not apologize. Instead, let me thank you again for your hospitality." When Mariya does indeed inquire, Leire goes on to say, "It would seem your betrothal is blessed by the Seven." Knowing the young girl will want more explanation than that, she elaborates, "I was born on the seventh day of the seventh month. Though my parents were highborn, they saw it as a sign that I ought be raised in the church. Most young girls feel the deepest affinity to the Maiden, but it's always been the Crone that's the face of the godhead most familiar to me. From time to time, she lifts her lantern to light the way."

"Blessed by the Seven." That's certainly not something that she thought would be the case. The announcement made at the Trial of the Seven ended poorly for Dorne. Mariya can't begin to understand what this all means. However, she listens closely to Leire's explanation. "The Crone speaks to you?" The idea is not unknown to her - it can hold a prominent place in the romantic tales and adventure stories she reads so often. "Gives you glimpses of the future?"

Leire falters at Mariya's choice of wording, seeming to hesitate a touch over how best to explain. "Not quite so. It might be a passing thought, or a glimpse, or an image. When we stood upon the steps of the sept, looking out over Oldtown, I spoke as though not with my own tongue, but mightn't have explained it to you then if you'd pressed me. I would call it rare that the Wizened One proffers so clear a direction. After all, we do not learn if we are ever led by our withers to water. That is why I bid you see your engagement as a blessing in spite of the circumstances. It seems to me that it has been ordained."

The most Mariya knows of prophecies or glimpses of the future has been gleaned from poems, songs and stories. They, undoubtably, have a much more simplistic view of Leire's gift. As she explains further, the young woman mulls over her words, undoubtably thinking of all that has happened recently. Worrying at the fabric on her dress, she frowns. "She spoke through you and her words were of my engagement to Ser Daevon. It is a strange thing to believe the gods have left you only then to be told they might foresee and bless an announcement of my marriage."

"One might spend a lifetime in service to the Seven and be no more enlightened as to the rhyme or reason with which they bestow favor," Leire reflects in reply to Mariya, an understanding smile spreading across her face. "I've since lit a candle for you on the Crone's altar and have kept it burning day and night since last we spoke. It may invite further guidance to trickle from the pool of her infinite wisdom."

A conflicted Mariya nods, unsure of how to continue. "Why might the gods refuse to save a good man like Ser Osric, but think my marriage worthy of their favor?" She looks to Leire, attempting to understand. "I hope it might bring more guidance, as I certainly feel adrift. I thank you for your thoughts and for the candle. There are not many in Oldtown who would look upon the Dornish with kindness. Especially now."

"The Seven have no liege lords, no worldly alliances or enmities. They look upon us all as their children and mete out their mercy, justice and compassion in equal measure." Leire smiles wanly. "Why the Stranger lays his hand on one and not another is a question I am asked often, and I've yet to perfect an answer to it. Though his loss is grievous, it could just as easily have been that more wives were today grieving the loss of their husbands, more mothers the loss of their sons, more sisters the loss of their brothers. It is a mercy that only one of fourteen champions were slain, even if it remains a tragedy that as many as one of them is lost."

"It is not the fact that they laid a hand on any man, but that the Stranger felt fit to take Ser Osric. Even were he not my goodbrother, even if my sister had not lost a husband, her children a father - I would mourn his passing. He was the Truest Knight I have ever seen and his loss is…unbearable." Mariya is not yet past tears at mentioning his death, but for now her cheeks remain dry. "All mourn their loved one's passing. But, Ser Osric would have mourned the death of any else on the field the same. Yet, his opponents took joy in it. They took up his sword after he fell and would have befouled it with the blood of his kinsman. What does the Stranger say when he takes a man like Ser Osric and leaves men such as that behind?"

Leire looks distinctly uncomfortable when mention is made of the treatment of Dawn in the wake of the Sword of the Morning's fall on the field, and she contemplates Mariya's questions so thoroughly as to appear distant. In the end, she offers no long speech, but simply says, "Perhaps his loss will dissuade further bloodshed between your countrymen and the Reachmen. It's an old feud best buried for the sake of both sides. The loss of a lesser man might not have been grounds upon which to sow a new peace." Even as she says it, she knows it's not nearly enough, and has an apologetic tone to her speech.

It is easy to see that her words have made Leire uncomfortable, so Mariya looks down, clasping her hands in front of her. "Forgive me, I find myself hateful after his loss. I do hope for there to be no more bloodshed, but I fear that the price was too dear. And that those of the Reach see his death as confirmation that their cause is blessed. For now, perhaps, there will be a peace. My marriage to Ser Daevon is supposed to ensure it, and I would hope that it does. I do not wish for war, but from what I have seen this does not seem a feud that will end by the death of one good man."

Echoing her earlier words, Leire assures the Dornish princess, "You need not apologize. I have never been of the view that keeping the faith entails burying our true feelings beneath the ones we think would be more pleasing to our confessors. It may be that you're right and it's not enough. It grieves me to think so." She makes her concessions judiciously, seeming less inclined to attempt to bolster Mariya's spirits with niceties than to reflect on the princess's words.

"I guess we shall see," Mariya allows. "Perhaps that is what the Crone is attempting to tell us. That the marriage will work for peace." It's clear that she is not sure she believes it, but she will continue to think on the matter. "No, I should. You have been kind to me in two times in my life when I needed such kindness. I do not wish to offend you and I value your words."

Reaching across the distance between their two chairs, Leire lays a hand upon Mariya's arm, assuring her, "You haven't. I understand the root of your reflections, and would not think to begrudge you them. Our trials are tests from the Seven, and every one an opportunity to demonstrate our reverence." Though she may prove open-minded in some respects, the septa is singular in this one, offering her advice in the impassioned tone of a true zealot.

While Mariya may be wavering in her own faith, she is certainly not someone who will argue with a Septa over whether the Gods are truly looking out for people. "I will endeavor to remember," is what she replies. "Thank you."

Shortly thereafter, Leire rises from her seat, offering Mariya a parting kiss to each cheek. "I hope we will have occasion to speak again soon, Princess. Thank you for your hospitality." And with that takes her leave, escorted out of the manse just as readily as she was shown in earlier.

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