(121-05-03) Lord Arnau Blackmont's Ransom
Lord Arnau Blackmont's Ransom
Summary: Lord Arnau Blackmont is at last ransomed.
Date: 3 May, 2014
Related: In Blood, Truth

Grand Hall - Garden Isle Manse
The first floor's main hall is grand, open room dominated by a massive fireplace and high-arched windows facing the street, protected by heavy iron bars. The white walls and polished white marble floors make it seem airy and bright. The starkness of the walls is softened by three long tapestries, depicting fantastical hunting scenes, while the marble floor is cushioned by rich Myrish rugs.

Down the center of the hall is a long, wide dining table, able to seat thirty comfortably. At the head of the table is an enormous chair of elaborately carved rosewood, with a door behind flanked by two high windows, giving a view of the sunlight gardens. Near the fireplace are smaller chairs, cushioned benches, and small tables for more intimate conversations.

Alcoves and doors at either side of the great hall lead to servants quarters, kitchens, and smaller sitting rooms. At the northwest and southeast corners of the building are square towers holding the stairs up to the floor above, where the bedchambers and other sitting rooms are found.

No chains nor bars bind a Noble hostage, particularly one of a status such as Arnau Blackmont. It is only the ever present guards, the limited location, and the ever present smugness of all he comes in contact with that are to remind him of his position. The Lord has been kept in the manner of a man of his station, treated as a guest in this house, and often (likely irritatingly) accompanied by Ser Viggo Cockshaw himself. The time for answers and questions has passed and what was said between the two men on the subject of the attack of Wickham's Nest is known only to them. In a smaller sitting room, they now wait.

Dressed finely in dark leathers stitched with a delicate leaf and his customary feather hat, Viggo stands with a glass of wine in hand. The length of his blade hangs heavily at his waist, the newly polished pommel glinting as he shifts from one side to the other. His dark eyes slide towards his hostage, mouth lifting at one side. "Will you return to Dorne upon your release, Lord Arnau?" He wonders conversationally.

Kevyn has spent little time gawking at the Blackmont. In part that's to due to his recent knighting, which has meant spending a good deal of time with his father sorting out his equipment and discussing his "place" within House Cockshaw now. What Kevyn has made of those discussions, he's not really spoken on to his other kin. He's free from those particular responsibilities today, though, and he's come to witness the exchange of the Dornish hostage. He's admitted to the house and directed to the sitting room by a servant. Once there he knocks on the door, reluctant to intrude in case they're discussing something terribly private. "It's me, cousin."

The conditions in which Lord Arnau Blackmont has been kept are without fault, though he has also not given much quarter in how he feels he should be kept, imposing on the Garden Manse just short of being overly high maintenance. It's a delicate balance and a careful calculation. The company, however, leaves much to be desired. The heir to House Blackmont does not look particularly pleased with his companionship at the moment, mouth set in a line and flat and stiff as his broad shoulders. Whatever he thinks of the Cockshaws or his situation, he endeavors to not look like the hostage he is.

Arnau stands firmly, with feet planted shoulder-width apart and a straight back, hands clasped behind it less like someone at ease in pleasant company, and more like someone who is unthreatened by them, despite his lack of weaponry. Like his armor, those will be returned to him once his ransom has been paid. He is dressed in a heavy robe of deep grey and embroidered blacks with some highlights picked out in Blackmont yellows and golds along the collar and sleeves. Green eyes slide over to Kevyn, settling there a moment before dismissing the new knight. "I will do what is needed of me, Ser Viggo," he non-answers the Cockshaw.

"Enter cousin," Viggo bids graciously, gesturing towards the wine as if they are merely socializing for pleasure. He takes rather more pleasure than his hostage in all of this. There is something about the Gods naming a man just that will do that. "Lord Arnau, my cousin, Ser Kevyn," he offers easily, reintroducing them carelessly with the young man's new title. "Interestingly, it seems that more of your countrymen have been arriving by the day to hear word of it."

The small Dornish contingent arrives, preceded by a servant who announces them to the lords of House Cockshaw. "Presenting Lady Fowler, the Fury of Skyreach and Warden of the Prince's Pass." At this, Alaeyna strides forward gracefully, dressed in a swath of cerulean silk cut in typically provocative Dornish fashion to leave bare much of her bronzed, sun-kissed skin. Trailing behind her is a Dornish knight, announced simply as "Ser Ryam Sand." With a surreptitious glance in Arnau's direction, Alaeyna holds in place, awaiting the pleasure of her hosts in receiving the pair of them.

Ryam follows after Alaeyna, staying in the background for now, as he offers a polite nod to both the two Cockshaws and Arnau now. Otherwise keeping quiet as he looks between the people in the room.

"Ser." In a single word, just his title no less, Arnau manages to greet Kevyn (Hello) and sound a little doubtful (You're the sort they are knighting now?). He has not forgotten who Kevyn is, nor has he forgotten seeing him at the Trial of the Seven. "I am sure my countrymen have interests of their own," he replies to Viggo in a low voice given a little more character by the play of accent along the words. He turns his head to look at the arrival of the Dornish contingent, followed by shifting his body with a slide of feet to face them. Only the slightest twitch of his brows betrays any thoughts at what he sees. Or, perhaps more accurately, who he sees.

Kevyn enters as Viggo bids him. He still looks bemused at being called 'Ser,' though his response to Arnau is a more-or-less unflustered, "Lord Blackmont." He goes to stand beside Ser Viggo and, apart from that, she little. Though he can't help but gawk a bit at Alaeyna. "Umm, my lady. We bid you welcome."

It can be considered (somewhat) to his credit that Viggo manages not to stare, although Lady Alaeyna certainly deserves more than a simple pass of his gaze. His dark eyes linger a moment on Ser Ryam Sand, marked and then dismissed. "Lady Fowler, your title marks you as formidable as you are lovely. Welcome," he bids, taking a set of long strides across the room and bowing with a courtly flourish. "Ser Ryam, well met." He doesn't get a bow. "You've come a long way for this duty."

Though she offers the gawking young knight a curt nod of the head, it's his more composed and courtly elder who Alaeyna has eyes for. His niceties win a smile from the Dornishwoman. Hopefully they've grown an ear for the Dornish accent from their 'houseguest,' because when she speaks, it's with a lilt not unlike his, their houses being as close to neighbors as one's like to find in the sprawling Dornish dunes. "Thank you for your hospitality," she says, not warmly, exactly, but politely enough. And then, "Yes, indeed. You have something I want." Now she looks to her countryman again, drinking him in with her fierce, sparkling stare. "Hello, darling," she says to Arnau, her smile waning.

"You as well, Ser," Ryam replies to Viggo, before he goes quiet again, listening to the fully noble people for the moment. Just remaining in place and listening at the moment.

When the Cockshaws are busy gawping (or trying not to) at the Lady Fowler, or at least when Arnau believes they are not looking at him, he inclines his head towards the Lady with what might pass for a smile somewhere. Whatever covert greeting he thinks he may have achieved is dashed pretty quickly at her greeting of him. Though the Blackmont does lift a brow at the declarative 'you have something I want' followed by the beginnings of a more true smile, it quickly freezes on his face, replaced by a mildly bashful grimace. Oh, here we go again. "Aren't you looking as well as ever," he says to Alaeyna. "Travel must suit you."

Kevyn offers Ryam a polite, if curt, inclination of his head. Though the man doesn't receive the sort of gawking Lady Fowler did. He then directs his eyes back at Arnau, though too late to catch any of the near-smiles he exchanges witwh Alaeyna. Not that he'd likely know what to make of them, anyhow.

Viggo meets Alaeyna's gaze with a broad smile, less smug than the many he has regarded Arnau with over the days passed. He lifts his dark brows, following the exchange between the lady and her countryman with interest and, perhaps, a little amusement. "Indeed," he says, word almost wondering. Why would one want that back? Ah, duty. "We shall give him to you in time, I presume that his ransom has been garnered and promised." He speaks of the terms of ransom prefunctorially, unbothered by the crass speaking of coin that underlines a tourney knight's livelyhood.

Evidently the Lady Fowler lacks the same sensibilities, because when Viggo cuts to the chase with the mention of money, she seems pleased rather than offended. She motions towards Ryam, who is evidently charged with the purse, and she answers, "By Lord Blackmont himself." With a brazen sweep of her hand upon Viggo's forearm, she says, "Tell me, Ser, who ought I sweet-talk for a cup of wine whilst we see about the particulars of our business?"

Ryam nods a bit as he's motioned towards, and moves forward to deposit the purse where it's wanted now. A brief nod given again, before he steps back once more now.

Lord Arnau's gaze slides sideways over to Viggo with what could be considered exasperation if you know him. If you don't, he might just appear patiently bored. Alaeyna should consider herself lucky to not be subjected to the heights of smugness someone like Viggo can achieve. Then again, maybe they will get along just fine. He sighs despite himself.

A cascade of taps indicate the arrival of another figure. Taptaptap. The metal-shod cane that conveys Maester Jacsen impacts against the floor until the silver-haired Maester shuffles his way into the grand hall. Jingling chains also herald his arrival, and his sour expression gives way to a brief, toothy smile.

"I can, err, ask a servant to bring something," Kevyn says politey to the Dornish lady. And the others will theoretically also get wine, too. Whether service is appropriate for his new station is questionable, but he does move off to go find a servant to bring them some wine. "Pardon me," he mutters to Jacsen, walking carefully around the lame maester and his cane.

The brazen sweep of her hand over Viggo's forearm only broadens his smile. "You need not sweet-talk anyone, my Lady. Welcome spoken, cousin. No need stand while formalities are established, please let us be seated." He gestures towards the seating, offering the lady an arm, and then nods politely to Jacsen. "Maester." Hello.

When offered a seat, Alaeyna takes one, laying the coin purse in her lap as a visual reminder of their purpose. She watches after Kevyn as the enterprising lad goes off to order wine, awaiting its arrival as eagerly as the conclusion of this bit of business. Though she wears a toothy smile for Viggo, it doesn't reach her eyes, and she waits for him to be seated, too, before getting right to it. "Lord Blackmont proposes delivery of his son's ransom in two tranches. The first I bear with me today, the second to be released once he receives satisfactory word from his heir."

"I believe," the Maester begins as he nods his head with a heralding jingle of chains of office, "this exchange bears the mark of successful statecraft. Which means, as pleasnt surprises go, this was one of the only ones." Jacsen finishes this statement with his foxlike smile still held firmly upon his face. The non-cane hand dips outward to smooth out his robes.

Ryam offers a polite nod to the Maester as he arrives, smiling a little as he looks between the others now.

As Viggo gestures towards the seating, Arnau looks over at Alaeyna before making his way over with steps that are much softer than one would expect for how sure and firmly he walks. He does not stomp around like a sulky child. He does, however, sit a little hard when he does take a seat, legs spread wide and back straight. By appearances, he might look as though he is seeing over these proceedings rather than the subject of them, though both are in some parts true. "I imagine my father wishes to be sure that no further distress has been laid on House Blackmont in these affairs." Which would be a concern if Arnau hadn't been kept in good conditions. "I am so glad you approve," he says with extreme blandness at the Maester.

A servant comes in, in not too long, with a tray bearing a bottle of Arbor red and enough glasses for all. Including the caned maester. Kevyn returns not far behind, but a little behind. At least he gets a glass of wine for his trouble.

In contrast to Arnau's strong placement and Alaeyna's visual reminder, Viggo sits casually with his legs crossed at the knee in what is not quite a sprawl. His shoulders remain broad and straight, expression easing into a mild countenance. He nods at Jacsen's comment. "Indeed, Maester. We should not want to cause further distress, seeing as our houses are to be joined in the coming year." His dark eyed gaze strays towards Arnau, brows lifting eloquently before he shifts to regard both titled Dornishmen. "Those terms are acceptable. And here are ours, Lord Arnau Blackmont is to remain within the walls of Oldtown until the second tranch has arrived and is delivered. He may take his pleasure within and without its many fine features, but is not to step outside of its boundaries without a Cockshaw escort." His gaze hardens at the last, sweeping from Alaeyna to Arnau. He accepts a glass from the servant, offering Kevyn a smile. "If these terms are acceptable, we may consider this matter settled," he says, tone easy throughout and ringing with clarity.

"Do not mind if I do. As they say." The silver-haired Maester says, diplomatically enough even if his tone bears a gruff sort of edge. His cane thumps against the floor of the hall as his three-legged gait leads him straight to the newly-provided wine. His creepy smile remains.

Sharing Arnau's glance as he approaches and then seats himself, Alaeyna lends the Blackmont heir a supporting nod when he speculates on his father's motives. She's grateful for the wine, even if it's sure to be swill compared to the strongwine of her homeland, and wastes no time in testing the proverbial waters with a sip of it. She's the only one among their trio who doesn't acknowledge the Maester's proclamation, but she does regard him in her silence. Lady Fowler's attentions are offered back to Viggo when he enumerates his own conditions, prompting the Dornishwoman to once again snake a sideways look in Arnau's direction. "As well as an escort of his own choosing, one for each of those attending him on behalf of House Cockshaw," she ultimately ventures.

Kevyn swallows his wine, deeply, when the forthcoming marriage between Cockshaw and Blackmont is mentioned. It keeps his expression safely hidden, should he have any outward reaction to it that is less than joyous about having a Blackmont relative.

The servant and the wine is paid little attention, though Arnau surely knows the Arbor red and glasses were delivered. It isn't until the Cockshaws take up glasses and at least one of them drinks that he partakes himself. He says nothing of the joining of Houses, though he looks a little like he's been chewing rocks for a split second. A green-eyed gaze is steady on Viggo as he accepts terms and then outlines some of his own. His gaze isn't hard in the piercing way of the Cockshaw's, but rather in the impenetrable way of a boulder. "I think you will find your future company unnecessary, ser." Though it is not meant to imply that he is going to run off, followed by a nod to both Viggo and Alaeyna for her addendum. "The terms are acceptable."

"An escort, but always one less in number than the escort from House Cockshaw," Viggo counters, strumming his fingers upon his knee. "Lord Arnau is a powerful man in his own right, to measure elsewise would be unequal. House Cockshaw will not be seen even incidentally allowing harm to come to him," he says with a smile, corners of his moustache curving upward. He nods towards Arnau. "No doubt, my Lord." Looking back towards Alaeyna, he inclines his head in question.

"Not so powerful as you, surely, Ser," counters Alaeyna, her tone prickly, perhaps having grown weary of this backing and forthing and lacking her countryman's finesse at masking it. "You brought him to heel on the field of battle, did you not? Equal numbers, a reflection of the even footing upon which the houses of Cockshaw and Blackmont shall enter into their peace-making marriage." Though the wine isn't entirely to her taste, she still drinks from it, regarding Viggo pointedly over the rim of the goblet, this time her turn to offer an inquiring arch of her brow.

Put your opinion where it doesn't belong, Maester. It's a way to make friends and influence people. "And — House Tyrell finds this arrangement most satisfactory as well." He offers, in probably the most shallow, disinterested tone he could possibly manage. Jacsen sips on a glass of Arbor Red now, doing probably the most impassioned thing he's done since he entered this room.

Kevyn doesn't put in his own opinion on this. He just sips his wine, which he's quite glad to have just now. He does nod to himself, as if relieved when Jacsen speaks of the Tyrell's approval of this matter.

"A powerful man who is apparently unable to help himself without a greater number of House Cockshaw surrounding him," Arnau observes dryly during the back and forth negotiations, beginning to feel a bit prickly this close to leaving while everyone talks about how in need he is of escort. "Perhaps next you will both agree that I should not even be trusted with my sword, so useless is my having a weapon at all." He drinks some of his wine instead of saying anything else for the moment.

"Only outside of the city, Lord Arnau. Within it, equal numbers will suit House Cockshaw," Viggo offers, shaking his head in mild correction. "We will not do less than our duty." He smiles with more certainty at the House Tyrell's approval. It is an expression extended to Lady Alaeyna. "Indeed, but flattering as that description is I cannot guarantee my presence should the need arise, my Lady. I am but a servant of my House. Otherwise it is agreed."

At last Alaeyna rises from her seat, discarding the glass of wine as she does so. She more or less ignores Arnau's sardonic observations, despite sharing his will to see the matter concluded. "We are in agreement," she says to Viggo, offering him the purse of coin heavy with gold dragons. "If you would return my countryman his things, we will take our leave and relieve you of your duties of hospitality."

The jingle of coin matches the jingle of chains as the Maester meanders on off out of the way, purposely giving the Dornish 'guests' in this manse a /wide/ berth. His silver eyebrows waggle as he clutches a small leather-bound folio that he picked up off a table while helping himself to more Arbor Red.

"No, you have certainly made that clear." That House Cockshaw will not do less than what it considers it's duty to do. Most people would say so as a compliment. Arnau does not sound particularly complimentary. Not that this is unusual for the Blackmont. He rolls the stem of the wineglass between his fingers, watching the gold be handed over with a slight clench of his jaw for the need to do so at all.

Kevyn watches the exchange of gold as well. Not exactly impassively, but with care that it's completed. No wine sipping just now.

"Of course," Viggo agrees easily, accepting the purse and rising from his seat. "I'll see to it personally, all things will be returned precisely as they were taken." The armor and his blade. He offers the pair of them polite nods, gaze lignering over long and almost warningly on Arnau. "No, we shall not." There is a weight to the words that belies their simplicity. "My Lady, my Lord, Ser." With that, and a significant look at Kevyn, he goes to take his leave.

"That would be a wild political play with no real meaning." Jacsen narrates in a bored tone of voice as he observes the rest of the ransom going down with all the jovial humor he can muster. He meanders over towards the chairs near the fireplace.

Kevyn swivels his head around somewhat abruptly when Jacsen speaks of wild political plays. He doesn't seem to know what to make of that. So he just finishes his wine, offers the maester - and the Dornish - a polite half-bow, and moves to take his leave along with Viggo.

"Nor shall we," Lord Arnau returns to Ser Viggo with just as much weight, two men standing for their Houses best interests. Setting the wine aside only partially drunk, he pushes himself out of the chair to stand again so that he may finally be free. As free as someone who is not leaving Oldtown yet, anyway.

White Stone Manse — Starry Street
This grand manse faces the prestigious Starry Street. The first story is protected by narrow high windows that stop people from seeing inside, but the big windows on the back wall and the four upper stories make the manse bright and airy over all.

Like almost all of the houses in Oldtown, it shares two walls with its neighbors on either side, but the servants quarters, kitchens, and servant's stairs buffer the house proper from any noise that could possibly leak through the thick stone walls. The grand staircase that allows residents and their guests access to the upper stories is of white marble veined with a pleasing yellow-tinged pink.

There's a pleasant walled garden in the back, viewed from the windows in the back wall and accessed through a glass-paneled door.

"What a tiresome man," complains Alaeyna as they enter the manse, heedless of the fact that she spent but an hour in the Cockshaw knight's company compared to the duration of Arnau's stay. Refreshments have been arranged in the great hall in anticipation of the Blackmont heir's return, strongwine and other Dornish delicacies set out on sprawling platters. And now that they are returned to the Dornish safehouse, having hustled there directly after quitting the other manor, she greets him properly. "Lord Arnau. I regret not having better circumstances to thank for seeing each other."

Weeks. He's spent weeks in the company of that man. Though thankfully not entire weeks. Really, not all that much time beyond the moments when Viggo sought information from him or just wanted to gloat a little. Still, Arnau has had more than he feels is a lifetime's worth of Viggo Cockshaw's company. "I am being gravely punished these days, though I know not for what," he says in regards to having spent so much time with that tiresome man, among other things. His recovered belongings will be taken up to the room he had occupied before becoming a ransom hostage by servants. He, himself, heads for the refreshments gratefully, though the expression of such is subtle, only exhibited with a a relieved sigh. "We never have the best of circumstances for seeing one another, do we?"

"I suppose not," is Lady Fowler's reply, similarly drawn to the libations, the heady Dornish wine above all. Cup in hand, she washes the taste of the Arbor swill from her mouth, slaking her thirst with the heavenly red of their homeland. Next she picks over one of the trays, popping a dark olive in her mouth and savoring its meaty flesh. As to the rest, she says gravely, "For standing against our foes with a vain hope for justice. And with that monument to avarice dwarfing the heart of this wretched town, no small wonder the gods were on their side." The last is venemous, her disdain for the Westerosi, and the Reachmen in particular, thrusting her to the verge of blaspheming the Seven, if not past it. As she reaches for another olive, she says, "I have a letter from Lord Blackmont. I vouchsafed its delivery to your hands."

Arnau takes a sip from his own cup and closes his eyes a moment, like with the taste of the wine in his mouth and unable to see anything else he can pretend as though he is home again—if only for a moment. "There is no justice to be found in these lands," he says opening his eyes, reality encroaching on his brief moment's peace. "Those slaughtered at the Red Rookery will never see justice. Their killers claim innocence and we have to pay for the privilege of saying they are right for failing in combat. They make promises and turn their backs on them as they wish." His venom has lost a lot of bite as long as he has had to wallow in his defeat. "I see. Thank you, for seeing to my release and delivering this letter."

"I cannot stomach it," protests Alaeyna, as if his blunt speech is as intolerable as the realities he describes. "I have spoken with Princess Elia and urged the support of House Fowler, should she choose to strike. Her will is diplomacy." This much is relayed without disdain for the princess herself, even if the sentiment is obviously one that leaves a bitter taste in her mouth. "However, House Martell is prepared to pay the remainder of your ransom now, despite Lord Blackmont's choosing to dispatch only half the demanded dragons. I didn't want to presume your will in the matter."

"I must stomach it. Until there is such a time when, as they say, the tides can be turned. To do otherwise would be to succumb to the final defeat." Though he does not stomach it in ease, bearded jaw clenching and green eyes flashing with temper now that those from the Reach are not in attendance. "Of course her will is diplomacy. It is House Martell that would see us all wed to those Dragons and Flowers." If Arnau sounds bitter, well, his House has had many loses of late and more before that. "If my father has only sent part of the desire coin, I am sure he has his reasons. Beyond wishing to show his disappointment from afar. I will read his missive to me and think on the offer."

"Mayhaps you have more of an ally in the Princess than you might think," Alaeyna offers with a smile that's at odds with the subject matter at hand, continuing, "for she cautioned me with the same counsel. How fortunate I am, to count among my friends heads far cooler than my own." And then, sombering, she searches out Arnau's heated green gaze, venturing to lay a hand upon his arm as she tells him, "You are a champion of Dorne. Others would not have stood for justice as you did, would not have sought so desperately to vindicate our countrymen in the eyes of the gods and the Westerosi besides. A lesser man would not have acted at all for fear of failing. The loss of my cousin was devastating, but inaction would have been unforgiveable. I would pay the same cost he did, again and again, if it meant vindication for Dorne."

"Mayhaps," Arnau repeats, picking at the offerings on the table and speaking again before he actually partakes of them. "Dorne and her people are in need of allies in this town, some of us more than others." That's just a (another somber) fact. Though there have not been riots for awhile, there is lingering ill-will towards a people believed to have recently slaughtered some of their own, nobles and an heir no less. His gaze falls to where Alaeyna has laid a hand on his arm, then looks back up. "I would not wish to not have taken the actions that I did. I could only wish that they had been better actions." His fist clenches slowly in frustration, ever a man of small gestures rather than flamboyant ones. "I still do not know who began this conflict. Those fallen at the Red Rookery have not seen justice, nor even vengeance, though I sought it. It has cost my family a small fortune and the life of a man better than any of them. And my wife is still missing. No one will admit to having taken her." As he is not yet willing to admit she may not have turned up throughout all of this because she is dead.

"Who began it? You might as well ask your father, or his father, if he yet lived and breathed. They would say Reachmen, just as the Cockshaw knight's forebears would say Dornishmen." Alaeyna drinks deeply from her wine now, marking the memories of her cousin Osric, yes, but also her father and a handful of other loved ones whose lives were casualties of the legacy of bad blood between their factions. "Words are wind. Our choices are what we leave behind." She withdraws her conciliatory touch, but she says, "If I can assist you in any way to recover her," you know, alive or otherwise, "I hope you know you need only ask." And then, finally, she waves over a hovering servant, instructing them, "Please retrieve the missive with Lord Blackmont's seal from my cache of letters and see it delivered to Lord Arnau's rooms."

"I cannot think back to every instance or feud of blood since the First Men. Were this just another skirmish along the border I doubt I would be here now or that there would have been a need for that Trial of the Seven for the Seven to abandon us at." But there was no skirmish, just slaughter and the heir to a House among the dead. They both drink deeply from their wine for a moment. Arnau says nothing for a few moments, not adding any more words to the wind, though him mind works at the many problems before him. "Thank you. Had I had any direction to give you, I would," he says solemnly, a man of his word. "I have already politely invited my own people to return her, should they have been behind the raid—and I have not so politely sought her out. But no one has claimed to know anything of her. I am without direction." After the hovering servant has been dismissed, he adds, "I am sorry for the loss of your cousin. He fought more bravely than us all."

Alaeyna nods at the first, conceding the Blackmont heir's point but having no better wisdom to contribute on the matter, only the silent solidarity of their mutual imbibing of the strongwine. "Forgive me, I hadn't realized she'd been unaccounted for all this time," she says, wearing a grave expression of concern, but similarily helpless in terms of solving that particular puzzle. Their somber exchange has sapped her of her appetite, and so once she has finished her wine she says to Arnau, "I believe I will retire, and leave you to your freedom. Your letter should await you upstairs. I hope it will prove a boon to have word from home."

"Two months now," Arnau says of of the time his wife has been absent, but seems unwilling to say more than that, even if even really meant to say as much as he did aloud. It is one of a few puzzles his mind winds around without any clear answers. Solidarity in silence can have it's comforts, though. The Blackmont nods once, slowly at Alaeyna as she announces her decision to retire. "Then I will bid you a good rest. And as we will see each other again soon, I will hope the next time the circumstances will be better." The corners of his eyes crinkle a little, suggesting that that's supposed to be somewhat of a joke in regards to poor first impressions.

"I doubt the circumstances will have changed much, but perhaps our spirits will have, hey?" At that, Alaeyna offers Arnau a traditional kiss to each cheek, granting the formidable man a tip of her head before taking her leave for the night.

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