(121-04-30) Snakes in the Grass
Snakes in the Grass
Summary: In which serpents are named and Aevander overplays his hand.
Date: April 30, 2014
Related: probably

Walled Garden - Dragon Door Manse — Starry Street

The Dragon Door Manse has a large walled garden behind. The tall stone walls have iron spikes topping them to prevent climbers, and a heavy double oak-and-iron gate leading into the alley behind. It's quite solid, though there is a little door in it that one might open to look out. Near that gate is the stables, with an attached mews on one side and kennels on the other. There's a small paddock for the horses behind the stables, and in front of it a space for training at arms, with a simple pell as well as a more complex practice dummy that can pivot when struck. These utilitarian areas are separated from the rest by a lower, and gateless, wall. Orange trumpet-creeper grows over it in most places.

Between this wall and the garden is a great fire pit, ringed in glossy black stones, each cut to interlock with the next and engraved with the image of a dragon. They're all in slightly different poses.

Nearer to the Manse is the garden proper. Its has winding stone paths and is planted thickly in flowers and trees. Most of the blooms range in colour from fire-orange to blood red. Deep purples are also included in the garden's otherwise limited palette. The pride of the plantings is an enormous flowering quince tree, some thirty feet tall — not large for a tree, but vast for one of its type. Clearly it has been pruned for generations to take on this form, single-trunked, with its branches curving up and then down in a fountain shape. Each of them nearly touches the ground and is heavy with bright red-orange flowers. One can step through them to stand hidden under the umbrella of blossoms, shaded and cool.

Most of Oldtown's grand manses have a fountain at the center of their gardens. Here there are only a few small ones, here and there along the paths. At the center there is, instead, a black stone pavilion, standing in the open and unshaded by any trees. It is seven-sided, with arched doorways on its East and West walls. It is otherwise glazed, including its domed roof. The glass is black and clear and red, pieced together to form the three-headed dragon sigil of House Targaryen. The image is repeated on the floor inside, in red jasper set into the black marble. The pavilion houses long curved benches of that same black stone. It gets tremendously hot inside.


It is a summer evening. The weather is hot and clear.

It's been a hot day, and the heat lingers even as the sky turns orange and red with the setting of the sun. It's colors that compliment the general themes of the garden with it's red-accented black stones, red and orange blooms and splashes of rich purple. Amid this richness of color comes a lean young man dressed all in black, his skin and hair pale and his eyes the violet color that marks those of Targaryen blood. From the way he moves through the garden paths and the shift of his gaze, he's not so much perusing as he is looking for something. Or, perhaps, someone.

In burning reds and golden skin, Yael matches the heat of the sun and the brush strokes of petals in the garden. The umbrella of blooms from the enormous flowering quince tree nearly hide her in their shadows, but the glint of her snake bracelet reveals her prescence. A slim pair of leather sandals peeks beneath their vale; the lady herself seated at the tree's base with a snake coiled in her lap.

It's the peeping sandals that first catch Aevander's attention, and his head cants as he follows those sandals to the figure to which they are attached. Stepping off the garden path, he makes he way over to the quiche tree to offer a bow. "Lady Yael Blackmont?" he guesses. "I as Ser Aevander Targaryen. A pleasure to meet you at last."

Yael lifts her brows at the man who stands half veiled, if ultimately polite, through the flowers of the quince tree. Her full mouth curving in a crooked smile, she greets, "I am. Well met and a pleasure Ser Aevadner. Although, you'll have to forgive me if I do not rise to curtsey for there is a snake in my lap." Her smooth accent coils around the words, the husk of the dessert nipping at certain consonants, however she sounds unbothered by the snake. "Prince Daevon has spoken well of you. I understood you might be seeking me, but it is a welcome boon that it is so soon."

"If you cannot stand, my lady, than do you mind if I join you where you sit?" Aevander queries. "My brother says you are much recovered from your ordeal and might be willing to speak of it. If that is so, I can send for refreshments and we might make as pleasant an evening out of the recounting as can be managed."

"I could stand, I just don't want to wake the small one up," Yael corrects with a smirk, sliding her fingers over the snake's head. It's had a busy few weeks. "Please do, Ser Aevander. This is your home, I have not the right to claim sections of it for myself beyond that which is offered." Tipping her in a short nood, she gestures towards the base of the tree where she herself sits. "That would suit."

Aevander steps out of Yael's view for a moment to speak to one of the house guards and have food and drink sent out into the garden. Then he ducks under the cascading leaves and blooms of the quince tree to ease down into a sit next to Yael, though not so close as to be discourteous. He regards the snake in her lap thoughtfully. "I would not have thought them very devoted companions," he muses. "With no eyelids, how can you tell that it sleeps?"

Yael makes a pretty picture with her dark, almost raven, locks of wavey hair sweeping over brown shoulders and her skin clad in a slight red dress. A snake bangle on her arm is her only point of jewellery. It rattles as she lifts her dark eyes to regard him with a crooked smile, scar at her lip twisting. "They can be. They are hunters are heart, but not without their own logic." Lifting a finger, she strokes it along the bridge of the snake's head. "They are very still."

"Well, I suppose one could say the same of man," Aevander muses as he considers the dozing snake. "Has it a name?"

"A man still has eyelids," Yael notes with amusement, agreeing to his earlier claim. Canting her head, she looks down at the snake beneath her fingers in consideration. "It has not. It has likely earned one at this point. Would you like to name it?"

"I meant the bit about being logical hunters," Aevander clarifies with a soft laugh. The naming of the snake causes him to lift his brows thoughtfully. "We name our dragons in High Valyrian," he offers, "Perhaps this little, scaled hunter might also like a name in that language?"

"I don't know if you've met altogether many men, Ser Aevander," Yael wonders with a hint of bemusement, dark lashes touching her cheeks in a brief sweep. She laughs as well. "I believe he might do it honor."

"Well," Aevander laughs, "we are all hunters of one sort or another, though I grant you, we are not all logical. "He is male then, your little companion?"

"Then I will allow you the counter-point." Yael smiles winningly at him, dark eyes regarding his features. "He is."

Aevander considers for a long moment, his fingertips rubbing along his jaw. "You are not quite so large as a dragon, my friend, nor as fearsome. But may you be proud in the gleaming scales and sharp teeth you share with your larger, greater siblings. Let you be, then, Valonqar." Glancing from the snake up to Yael, he smiles faintly. " 'Little brother', in the common tongue."

When Aevadner looks downward to regard the wee snake, Yael watches his fair features with interest. "Valonqar, it is then. A fine assessment, I think," she decides, meeting his faint smile with a broader one. "It suits him. He has come on quite the adventure."

"So it has been alluded to me," Aevander confesses. He falls quiet as a maid arrives with a basket of picnic food and a carafe of wine. Aevander dismisses her with a nod and a smile before opening the basket and allowing Yael first pick of the various options within. He pours two glasses. "Would you tell me of that adventure, my lady?"

"Oh?" Yael also quiets as the maid approaches, the snake giving a little hiss as its mistress stirs imperceptably. The dark Dornishwoman ignores the servant or any fright of hers, smiling at Aevander as she takes her delicate pick from the basket. "I would. Although, I image the lot of it has been intimated to you already…"

"The overall gist of it, perhaps," Aevander agrees, "but nothing more. Certainly, your disappearance has been the source of some mystery and debate here in Oldtown, and if you can help us to answer the question of Wickham's Nest, that would be a beneficial thing."

"Which mystery is that, Ser Aevander?" Yael wonders, voice touched with interest. "There seem to be so many and so diseparate reports."

"Well, where you went," Aevander replies, offering Yael a cup of wine, "who you went with. If you were even there at all. Whether you were a captive or an accomplice. When all one has are questions, a surprising number of suggested answers tend to arise."

Accepting the glass of wine, Yael takes a slow sip allowing him time for his questions. "That is more than one mystery, Ser. Yes. I was at the Cockshaw Lodge the night of my capture, yes they did burn it to the ground, but no. I know not who it was and trust you me, if I did I would not be sitting here mincing words," she explains calmly, words strengthening to almost become a vow, as she meets his gaze unflinchingly. "I was a prisoner and nothing better."

"Any mystery that can be answered by a single question is not a very good one," Aevander opines before taking a sip of his own cup. She is forthright with him, and he does the honor of speaking as plainly in return. "Is that something that can be proven, my lady?"

Laughing softly, Yael takes another drink of the wine and turns her face away from him to regard the garden. "By no one living. My husband would verify my claim in so far as I visited the Cockshaws. Of those who saw the deeds, only my captor remains and all your kings horses and men did not find him." Dark eyes cut back towards Aevander, a brow arching with her curiosity. "Tell me did you search?" She taps her finger on the glass, eying his as he does not drink.

"Too late," Aevander replies for searching, "and, I suspect, in the wrong places. The Cockshaws believe it was Lord Blackmont or his banner men based on a dead man found at Wickham's Nest: one of the attackers, it was presumed. I am less certain, but we could find no evidence to disprove the possibility. In truth, if it had been any of the outposts, the Red Rookery was the most likely, and the Seven seem to agree that the strike there was righteous."

Incling her chin regally, Yael holds Aevander's lighter gaze with her dark. "The only Dornishman there that day was my guard. The rest were born from your country's fruit, not mine. Westerosi one and all." Her shoulders lift in a slight shrug for the divine righteousness of the Westeros champions at the trial of the Seven. "Even fledglings can find their own evil. Blackmont itself, himself, was not involved. My Captor confessed to being a Reachman, perhaps you should look to your own borders rather than ours."

"Again my lady, I must ask, can any of what you say be proven?" Aevander asks. "You appear after the trial concludes, alone and apparently escaped from great peril. You do not go to the authorities of Oldtown or your husband, but instead ask to be hidden, and hidden you remain. Now you say it was not the men the Cockshaws and Florents accuse but those of the Reach. I do not call you a liar, my lady, but you must see how suspect this all seems."

Shaking her head with dismissal, Yael lifts her snake from her lap and sets aside the wine. "I can see Ser, that you did not wish to hear my story but would prefer to harangue me with your own assertions. Very well, then. Ask your brother how I came to be in this house and you will know it was not by my choice," she dismisses, rising to her feet. "Ask him how I counciled him on this secrecy he seems to deem necessary? You call me a liar by nature of misrepresenting facts as ably as you are natured, even those that you yourself ought know."

"No, my lady, I do not," Aevander replies, standing as Yael does as a matter of courtesy. "I only say that you place my family in a difficult position and I wish you to understand it. Please, Lady Blackmont. We have hidden you here for several weeks, now, upon your request and my brother's word. We have said nothing of you to anyone, though it would have been far better for our name and reputation to have done otherwise. We continue to keep your secret simply because you ask it, an action which demonstrated that I do not consider you to be a criminal. Now I only ask for an hour of your time and some help in finding a way to verify that which you tell me, for your sake as well as my own. Is that so unjust?"

"I have not asked for you to keep my presence a secret," Yael counters smoothly, looking with heat at Aevander. "Do not presume to allot to me what choices have been made by your family. Only this day past I counciled your brother to speak of it for it is a foolish tact of politics and he clearly is a man of fierce honour." The grit of her voice flickers with heat in tone, head angled as she throws it back with a laugh. "What can you verify? I can offer no site, no placement that you'll believe, and nothing more than my time missing and my prescence."

Aevander's brows lift slowly in open surprise. "You… have not?" He draws in a slow breath and lets it out slowly. "Then I apologize for my misunderstanding." His brows twitch, and his fingers, and if he would like to rub the former with the latter, but he does not. "Lady Yael," he tries again, "if there is treason afoot on our doorstep, be assured that I have a very deep and profound interest in bringing it to light and seeing those responsible pay for their crimes. I apologize for any upset my careless words have cause you. Please, will you sit and tell me the details of your story? If you can offer no site and no placement, then perhaps your recollection may provide some clue or hint upon which we may begin a discreet investigation."

"Not at this moment," Yael decides, dismissing his offer to sit again and speak further on her deeds. "I need to think and consider before offering you any careless words," she says with a courtly smile, sweeping into a deep curtsey with a rush of crimson skirts. "Good eve. You may seek me later."

Aevander responds with a smile just as courteous and insincere as well as a bow. "And so I shall," he promises to the departing Dornishwoman.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License