(121-05-01) Night Reading
Night Reading
Summary: In which Aevander and Saskia have a nighttime chat in the garden.
Date: May 01, 2014
Related: Lunch and Recruitment

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 night, the weather is warm and fair - not raining for once. Saskia has been given room and board but she is out exploring the Dragon Door manse, ending up in the garden. With a simple jerkin on and Squid, a big black dog, by her side, she is making her way through the winding path, peering at the flowers and plants while ensuring Squid doesn't pee on them. She stops at the sight of the pavilion in the middle of the garden, quirking her eyebrows curiously. Curioser and curioser.

Said pavilion has an inhabitant with a lantern. Sometimes, it's nice to be outside. Especially in those hors where other people aren't. So, Ser Aevander has seated himself int he garden's black stone pavilion where he reads quietly beneath the starlit sky.

As she circles the pavilion to get a better look, Saskia freezes when she realizes she isn't alone. Her body tensing, she tries her best to crane her neck in order to get a better look. Realizing it is Aevander, the woman's face pales at first before her cheeks redden slightly. Noticing he has a book on his lap, she just watches him from the shadows a bit before Squid decides to head on out for her. "/Squid/!" She hisses at his back but he ignores the command and moves to sniff at Aevander's feet. Clearing her throat, she quickly moves in behind Squid, automatically bowing very low towards Aevander once she is within view. "Ser Aevander, my apologies," she offers, "I didn't mean to disturb you-.." as she speaks she hurries towards Aevander and Squid in order to grab her dog and pull him away.

Aevander lifts his head as he realizes he has company of the hairy and drooly sort. He huffs a small breath out. "Well, hello there. And who do you…" He looks up as Saskia arrives, brows lifting as the dog is named. "Mistress knight," he greets, "we really do need to have a discussion about the labels you give to things."

When Aevander actually seems to be at ease with the monster, Saskia relaxes a bit though she still tries to pull him away from Aevander's feet. The dog, unfortunately, appears to be sturbborn as he sniffs at Aevander's legs, thighs, ankles and really anywhere he can stuff his nose in. "I thought it was clever," she responds with a little grin that she can't help. "Black as a squid's ink so Squid. What would you have me name him? Ser Barkley?"

"Woah-ho, okay there, pup," Aevander half laughs and half yelps as that wandering and snuffly nose pokes itself into the spot dogs seem to favor sniffing best. He gives the big, black muzzle a push away from his legs and smirks over at Saskia. "Ink, perhaps?" he offers, "if that is the bit of the squid you find he resembles."

When Squid decides to shove his nose in Aevander's business, literally, Saskia isn't sure if she should be mortified or laughing, so she ends up with a mortified laugh. She clears her throat once she gets a handle of herself and quickly tugs the dog away harder. "Squid! Leave it!" She finally commands. He relents and with a huff withdraws from the royal family jewels. Saskia clears her throat as she forces him into a heel next to her, her blue eyes flicking over towards Aevander. "Ink works as well, but then they might thing I am a learned knight," she offers with another little grin before reminding herself to stand a bit straighter and less informal. "I wanted to thank you, Ser Aevander, for this opportunity," another stiff bow. "For takin' in myself and this unholy terror."

"Well, are you not?" Aevander asks, "Learned?" Save, you know, in etiquette and dress wearing. The prince smiles a little and shakes his head. "It is not me you should thank. It was Princess Elionys who wished you in her service, and I only sought to make my cousin happy. But you seem a clever sort and grounded. I think you will serve her well."

At his question Saskia shifts her weight awkwardly, glancing towards the book that he was reading from before she slowly shakes her head. "No, Ser," she finally murmurs. "I um, I never learned to read. I can add and subtract coin but I can't understand written word. It makes no sense to me. How can squiggly lines scratched somewhere represent what I am sayin'?" Her hand dips down to scratch Squid's head idly, and his eyes half-lid in a sleepy face in appreciation of the gesture.

Aevander considers a moment and then shakes his head. "No. No, that won't do at all. If you mean to turn knightdom on its head, you'll need as much knowledge as you can, which is where these squiggly lines come in handy. It's also rather useful by means of discretion and sending word from afar. I'll speak to Elionys. Lessons will be arranged."

As he offers her lessons, Saskia pauses before she looks down at Squid then back up at Aevander. "I, well thank you," she offers simply at first. "But I am a slow learner, Ser Sol has tried and I got the basic alphabet down, but then I would get bored and tried to poke him with a sword," she grins at the memory. "I used to get distracted easily when I wasn't movin'. The sword served me well enough, not many smallfolk dealt with the written word." A pause for a heartbeat then Saskia adds, "Who would be teachin' me? And…what was it that you were readin'? If Ser doesn't mind me askin'."

"Well, you are older now. And wiser, one would hope. Do your best not to skewer your teacher," Aevander advises. As far as who that teacher will be… the knight gives a small shake of his head. "I cannot say, yet." He glances down at his book and looks, for a moment, self conscious. "Ah, it was only pleasure reading," he replies. "Poetry."

"Oh, well, yes, I suppose there's some of that in here," Aevander allows. Though there are not, alas, any pictures. "But there are other sorts as well. Poems of battles, of thefts, or political plots. They can be stories put to meter or they can be emotions poured onto a page. Or a little of each. or something else entirely." As for women and poetry, the prince offers no comment.

"Of battles? Like the songs they sing?" It seems like a new connection for Saskia as she considers the shapes of the words within, twisting her head this way and that to see if she could pick out anything from within. She turns back towards Aevander with a frown before slowly and delicately sliding the book shut and passing it over to him. "You seem to know quite a bit about'em. Do you write then? Poems about battles and political plots?" she grins at that before pushing herself up to her feet. "I always thought fights were poetic; the way people move, the way the sword sings, the way that blood is spilt. Is that what they write about?"

"Songs are poems put to music," Aevander agrees with a small nod and he takes back his book. "I enjoy art in most of its forms. Writing, painting, performing… but no. No. I don't make any." He gives a small shake of his head to punctuate this denial. "I would say that is a good part of what they write about. Or the hearts and minds of those about to fight. Or some combination, therein."

She bobs her head at that, her hand reaching out to nervously rake through her short black hair. "I suppose someone has to," though it is obvious she isn't quite sure why they really have to. She falls silent then, crouching down to ruffle Squid absent-mindedly, her body is still tense and unsure of herself. As she pets there is the occasional sidelong glance towards Aevander.

Aevander regards Saskia and his fingers give a tap onto the cover of the book. "Well, the hour grows rather late. I think I had best turn in. But welcome to the manse, Saskia, and to service for my cousin. We are pleased to have you."

At his dismissal she quickly stands up and offers him a stiff bow. "Ser," she murmurs in sharp reply. Saskia then calls to her dog, another glance and she begins to make her way around the pavilion and back towards the manse.

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