(121-05-09) One Way to Skin a Cat
One Way to Skin a Cat
Summary: In which Ser Abram Florent faces Ser Dresden Reyne, for the hand of his lady love.
Date: (05/09/2014)
Related: Brainstorming
Players:
Abram..Laurent..Quill..Valerity..Dresden..

Training Yard, the Hightower

It is morning since the night before's drinking and clearly poor ideas. Hopefully some sleep has bashed away the poorer thoughts and notions conjured at a meeting of drink and ribald jests amongst friends-though likely it has not. In the Training yard, Hightower Armsmen are placed through their paces, each going through exercises they know by their skins. At their lead is an aged man, grey showing through his coppery hair, and unlike those in the patent grey of Hightower, this aged man is clad in silver and more notably crimson of another house-his voice a high and somewhat raspy Westerman affected thing. Orders called, to the grunting mass, as form and body practice.

Ser Dresden Reyne, the once feared Grey Lion, is for all accounts unknowing of what will be coming to his door soon enough.

Abram and company are rather more able to talk their way into the Hightower this morning, upon entry being told that one Dresden Reyne is at work in the training yard. Resolute steps and unimproved ideas carry the Florent down steps and up to the famed swordsman, whom Abram greets with the acknowledgment, "Ser Dresden Reyne?"

Ser Laurent Tyrell follows at Abram's side, stubbornly refusing to fall even a step behind until the Florent knight speaks Dresden's name. At that point, he assumes his duty as Ser Abram's self-appointed second, falling back a pair of paces and looking surly, meeting the eye of any Hightower men who look his way with a bellicose look of his own.

A few paces behind the Tyrell is another Lord of the reach, though his reason for being here is more or less support and to watch the proceedings with amused eye, than any true physical aid. Currently, likely the least drunk of the other two, Ser Quillian looks perhaps a shade better than he did the night before, and his arm, ever present in a sling.

Turning about at being hailed, the elder knight raises a hand first to Abram. "One moment." and then he motions for a grizzled serjeant to take over before he is turning around and moving to see Abram and his small company of friends. "Sorry." ever polite the Westerman gives a bit of a smile in welcome. "I've got them running their paces-so." and there he looks between the Tyrell who seems surly enough and the other interloper trailing behind Abram. A brow raises as Dresden sets his sights on the Florent. "May I help you Ser?"

"So," the Florent echoes with a dry grin, and bemused glance aside to Laurent. "He's putting them through their paces, be right with me." As Dresden at last addresses him, the knight names himself, "I am Abram Florent, the Knight if Derring Downs. I understand you are betrothed to the Lady Valerity Redwyne. I intend to prevent that union, Ser.

"It doesn't take much, with Hightower men," Laurent scoffs, loud enough to be heard. Once Dresden's attention is on Abram though, he falls silent. He still has a hard look for any man that takes an interest, but it's Abram's place to do the talking.

The Knight raises a brow, before his hand is offered. " A pleasure, Ser, may I ask your-" he starts to interject, when Abram gets to the meat of it. And so he looks back towards Abram again. "Aye, I am Ser." and then he raises both brows to this, and the hand remains out all the same-likely in some bit of shock. "Do you?" he asks, before eyes trail to the two behind him. "And you need bring a crippled man and another for such an announcement?" his laugh is dry before he is shaking his head. "If you do not mind, Ser. May I ask why?"

"My friends will go where they wish, Ser," Abram rebuts to the need for a crippled man and another socially crippled one. "You may ask, and I will answer that I mean to challenge you for the Lady's hand. I bid you name the place and hour, here and now shall serve if you wish, or else end your betrothal."

"I might simply end it, were I you," Laurent says now, to Ser Dresden. "Ser Abram has done for finer swordsmen than the Grey Lion, and in their prime." For all his talk of the night before, the Thorn backs Abram readily now, in the moment.

There's a look back towards Laurent and then a faint smile given Abram "Ah." And then he is motioning Abram to step aside. "Your friend has a sore mouth to match the other's arm." Dresden replies before he is sliding his hand to his sword. "There's not much t' keep me from unsheathing my sword now and running you through is there?" the Lion asks, before he shakes his head. "No matter." breathed out "May I ask you one thing, before I decide on the matter of this challenge Ser?"

"Nearly as sore as his face, aye," Abram allows but does not step aside, "Foul though the Thorn is, Ser, I'll not stand aside. This is our matter, not his." Dresden's last query is met with a faint frown of the eyebrows contrasted by an easy grin. "Ask what you will."

Laurent, by contrast, flashes an eager smile as Dresden's attention falls on him. His own hands slip to rest casually, thumbs hooked into his baldric, and he rocks onto his heels as he eyes the aging (but famed and dangerous) Reyne knight. The look sours a bit when Abram refuses to step aside, but he remains loyally in place.

Quillian for his part, still remains silent, as he watches the proceedings, though a small smile shows on his face as he watches the Reyne, a quick glance is given back over towards Laurent, as brow raised is given. Clearly he's got them questions, but for now he will not interrupt the proceedings of this rather drawn out challenge in the part of the Reyne.

Ser Dresden gives, a brief nod back towards Laurent's eager smile. And then he looks at Abram. "Would she favor this, this breaking of unions, so you may have her hand?" And there his hand leaves his sword's pommel for a moment.

"Ask her yourself if you do not already know, Ser," Abram advises the elder knight. "I don't speak for her family or yours, I am here as one knight before another to say we both will bleed before I see her wed to another."

Laurent's left hand drifts to rest casually on the pommel of his sword — an idle gesture rather than a threatening one — though the look in his eye makes up for his suddenly relaxed, even cheerful demeanor, should anyone meet that gaze.

"I had once, not terribly long ago." Dresden states before he looks towards the other man. "Though I imagine her own aloofness in the answer should have been enough to show where the tides lay." A sniff there before he bows his head, before he draws out his sword, and then takes a few steps back. "Alright then, you have challenged, and I will hear you here." Now the exercise yard has gone quiet as Hightower men look over towards Abram. "Did you bring a sword-we can finish this lot now."

Abram sets his own right hand to the hilt of the longsword borne at his side. "I have," drawing his own blade and stepping back as Dresden does. A look aside to Laurent and then Quill, the latter of whom is given a crooked grin, and muttered comment of, "No armor, then. One way or another this will be quick."

Laurent takes a long step back at that prompt, and waves any Hightower men who have pressed in close to step back as well. "Give them space," he growls, pacing a wide circle around the pair. It doesn't formally mark anything off, but he knows roughly the space needed, and means to make certain that it's clear.

"I've chain on me." Dresden states. "If you need a harness I can have a man bring you one out. But, I do not see this taking long." And there a twist of his hand, before turns into a defensive stance. "Or perhaps, you'd wish me remove mine?" the offer there, before they start, either way. As for the others there's a look back to the Hightower men. "Stay Clear-this is between gentlemen." something accorded there.

Quillian at this point moves with assessing eye over towards Abram, taking time to lean and whisper something to the Florent knight, before he himself backs up a pace.

Abram nods once curtly to Quill's quiet word, noting to the offer, "If the Ser will remove his maile, I will be content to begin." A dangerous choice, but one that favors a lucky blow. Rolling his shoulders and bouncing body weight on his toes to warm up cold muscles as the Reyne complies, the Florent draws a long, slow breath.

Laurent continues to circle the pair, stopping on each circuit to ensure that the Hightower men keep their distance, despite Dresden's command that it be done. A pattern develops as he circles — he pauses each time behind Dresden, and for longer with each pass. He does nothing untoward, though simply having an armed and hostile man behind oneself can be offputting to a warrior trained and tested. The Thorn well knows this, and aims to use this subtle tack to put Dresden on edge before the fight begins.

"Allow me a moment then." Dresden states before he is removing his surcoat and there over arming jack the fine mail lies. A motion is made to the serjeant who takes his sword, while the another Hightower man comes over and helps huck off the hauberk worn. Once that is done, the surcoat is taken and placed back on. "I hope you don't mind if I chose to remain in my colours, Ser." he adds, before taking up his sword again. "As we were?"

Abram shakes his head to indicate he does not mind, quipping lightly to the red, "I daresay we will both be wearing your family's color soon. I hope you don't mind," the Florent returns. A short nod. "As we were." The Florent's longsword is taken in both hands and raised upright before him in salute.

With no more tricks to try, Laurent settles behind Dresden to watch the match. Though his posture is casual, or as casual as the Thorn can affect, he is intent on the match.

Quillian scoots along the side as both men pair off, and now there's a look given over to Thorn, while he rmains somewhat to Abram's flank. an advantage for his friend's nerves, no doubt.

Dresden returns the salute with a flick of his wrist before his hand comes up and the stance adopted. His eyes watch the Florent, before he moves, It's a quick thing-a burst of speed as he seeks to catch blade and likely disarm the man before him with the skill of his own.

Abram's last comment be fore the blows start falling is surprisingly wise, given the decision making of the past day: "Someone had best fetch a maester." With that he steps to an aggressive assault one Dresden's guard.

The general suggestion Abram has made prompts a more specific order from Laurent. His dark eyes search about the yard until he sees a page or liveried servant, and he gets their attention with a barked command and a pointed finger. "You there! Fetch a maester, and be quick about it. Ser Dresden will have been badly wounded, by the time you return."

And there they are off. Dresden slinks around, to the aggressive assault by Abram, his blade missing it's chance to catch the other's but in that same moment he is dodging the rather thick blow his opponent seeks to deliver. Circling now, Dresden manuevers to come out from having the Tyrell at his back, while his sword remains up. This time he is darting low, with a feint, before seeking a higher slash to the knight's midsection.

Abram attempts a strong thrust low at Dresden's legs, the Reyne's footwork voiding the attack, but Abram recovers his guard deftly and the clash of steel as he parries rings out in the morning air. There will be no easy disarm or swift finish, it seems.

Abram buys the Grey Lion's skillful low feint, belatedly his upward parry misses Dresden's blade, but cuts across the elder swordsman's hand. Taking a cut across his own torso with a tight curse, the blood has begun to flow.

And the blood does flow, as Abram does catch the swordman's wrist, sending out quite a line of the red flow. Leather glove ruined as is the man's wrist. Pulpy meat shows, before Dresden grits through his teeth. Red coats his blade and with a flick of the wrist it's shaken off like rain. There's no cry, but grimace shows as he comes in again-swinging for the man, though no feint to hide where his aim lies true.

Valerity comes down from the tower's upper tiers.

Abram makes fine use of the few advantages he has: with two hands on the blade against the more skilled swordsman's one, he is stronger to block and stronger to strike. As Dresden's blow flies at him, the bloodied Abram counters with a powerful cross cut that slips just behind Dresden's guard as the Florent ducks back to dodge his opponent's cut. It is a dangerous gambit, should Abram misgauge the distance he is unmade, but the tip of his opponent"s sword flies near enough for his breath to fog the blade as it flies past his face, and Abram's own blade cuts with terrible effect across the Reyne's swordhand.

Dresden's move as open as it is, ends poorly as his blade catches nought but maybe tunic. However in doing so, a rather vulnerable point is left open there under his arm, and with sword hand wide and out-Ser Abram's point strikes true into the man's hand, which hacks deeply into bone and skin. There blade is dropped, and the swordsman crumples over himself with teeth bared and a grunt of anguish and pain. How his hand has managed to stay on, or have some fingers remaining is but the source of mystery and a few simple sinyews and bone. Left hand comes out from it's hold of his damaged right and looks to reach for his blade-though there is a glance given Abram. Oh and yes. there is terrible amounts of blood.

Terrible.

In the practice yard, a circle has been cleared, its limits drawn by a ring of spectators. Hightower men-at-arms and a pair of dark clad knights face the center, where Ser Dresden Reyne faces Ser Abram Florent, recently named the knight of somewhere unimportant. The two men clash furiously, blades ringing quick, and both bleed from fresh cuts.

At the edge of the circle, Laurent's right hand clenches into a fist, which pumps once into the air. Victory, it seems to say, as Abram's blade appears to have ruined Ser Dresden's sword hand.

Abram sets his boot across the flat of the Reyne's fallen sword. Had the pair been in full armor, no doubt the cut would have been less grievous, but possessed by some fit of madness, the pair were dueling unarmored. Abram bleeds from a cut across his chest that has ruined his doublet, but he still stands, pinning Dresden's weapon to the ground with one heel while his swordpoint levels upon the felled foeman. "Do you yield, Ser?"

There are times when Valerity Redwyne, by solitary nature, makes herself difficult to find. She does not want to be dragged to prim luncheons and proper teas with her cousins, nor obliged to wait on anyone's leisure. Despite that she's a lady still, she's the least of the noble blood in the High Tower, and it's a simple thing to pull rank on a fosterling. So she's found all the nooks and ledges where no one ever looks, long ago. Today, that's been a disadvantage. The confrontation in the courtyard is over by the time she's alerted that it began at all, and she's resultantly late on the scene. She storms out of the tower in swirling silk dyed scarlet and blood orange, in such a way that the gown looks like fire licking up her slender body from the hem. The cowl collar drapes in front, just barely hanging from her shoulders, and even lower in the back. At her heels is an energetic foxhound — on that rushes the field to race and bark around Abram, entirely oblivious to the gravity of the situation.

As for the lady, she looks considerably less pleased. "Reyne! Florent? What in seven fucking hells is going on?"

A dry laugh leaves Dresden as he looks up towards Abram Florent and there, his hand releases the pommel of his fallen sword. Cradling his ruined sword hand, there's a pale look about the already old and pale man, but he does offer a grim smile. "Yes, I do ser." A nod there before he is looking back towards where Valerity has shown herself. "Her Lord, will not be pleased, as I doubt my brother will keep any agreement. It'll be seen as shameful." A glance back to the other knight. "Thank you for allowing me to keep my honor in tact and coming to me as a man."

In seeing the hound come up there's a faint smile. "I wish Ser, you'd have done it sooner."

Abram looks up and aside as barking foxhound and irate Redwyne arrive in the training yard. He steps back off the fallen blade, and lowers his poised sword as the Reyne relents. A short dip of his head acknowledges the gracious surrender before the Florent turns a crooked grin on Valerity. "Duelling for your hand. Was that not clear?" A glance aside to Quill and Laurent for confirmation.

Valerity still looks entirely non-plussed, shaken and angry to see the two men covered in blood. She looks back and forth between them, deciding finally to approach the fallen one. Out of loyalty, pity… something. "Reyne… are you — ?" Abram's answer draws her up short and she turns, staring at him in silence. "You're what?" she asks, at last, incredulous.

"The lady herself," Laurent growls, his eyes drifting now from Dresden to Valerity, openly curious. Openly appraising. Openly ill-mannered. A lift of his brows makes it unclear whether he approves or not, but either way he speaks out more loudly to say, "Well fought, Ser Abram. Both of you," with a nod to Dresden, he approaches the Reyne knight to offer a hand in rising. "Well fought."

Quillian nods from over Abram's shoulder. "He speaks the truth lady." And there the Blackrood inspects Valerity as she nears the other swordsman, before giving Abram a well approving look. He'd mouth something save it seems that everyone is descending all at once.

Dresden for his part looks at the approaching Redwyne and offers a slightly sad mile. "We were." he says plainly. "I wish you had told me earlier." he states once towards Valerity before he looks over to Abram. Apparently any question to his wellbeing is ignored, cause uh, wrist and hand. "Ser, take good care of her." he adds before a nod is given to Laurent. "If you all don't mind..I need to see to this, lest I lose it in earnest."

"The Ser's hand is near off, Laurent, let the Hightower men see him to the maester. Where is the maester, anyhow?" Abram comments idly, as the others answer Valerity's doubletake, the Florent nods twice and makes a plain repeat of his prior words. "We were dueling for your hand." He pauses a beat, before asking, "Oh hell, you haven't already wed, have you?" Dresden's parting instructions seem to allay the brief worry, and he dips his head "I mean to, Ser."

Something strikes Laurent as funny, and inappropriate though it is, the training yard briefly rings with the Thorn's barked laughter. He looks again to Dresden when his mirth has faded — it never takes long, with him — and nods to the knight. Another silent approval, to follow his more vocal one, and he turns his back even as he advises him, "The maester is sent for. You might yet meet him in the grand hall, if you hurry, Ser."

The lady turns again, eyes once more on the Grey Lion, her expression stricken. Earnest. Almost childlike. Very far from the self-possessed and often disdainful Valerity to which Dresden, and the world, are accustomed. "I didn't — " She shakes her head. "There wasn't — " She blinks rapidly, then shifts her attention firmly to something present and practical. The amount of blood her — former — betrothed is losing. "Go," she tells him, her voice uncommonly gentle. "Please. Never take another hurt over me." Then, shouting at the courtyard like a commander in battle, "SOMEONE FIND the FUCKING Maester and have him tend Ser Dresden." A beat. "NOW." Pages, squires, and servants go scurrying. Then there's Laurent to the rescue, and Valerity shoots the Thorn a grateful look.

THEN there's Abram, and she turns to him once more. "Who even says I want to marry you, you presumptuous set of ears on a post?"

Abram answers Valerity with an easy smile and raised brow. "Well, you for one. I admit, I didn't ask around to see if anyone else approved, but in my defense, I did only just return to Oldtown," he quips with adrenaline-fueled levity.

There's a look given over towards Laurent from Quillian, before the wounded Blackrood is clearing his voice. "Cousin, I've never seen the battlements here.." he adds after watching the Grey Lion head off. "Perhaps a Tyrell guided tour could suffice? I'd ask for a Hightower, save they seem fond of fainting and hiding in their beds." he adds with a wry smile. And yes-he'll edge off right now. "Congratulations, Abram." he says before looking towards Valerity. "M'lady."

The foxhound barks when Quillian says 'Tyrell,' trotting over to the Blackrood and sitting, wagging his tail. Valerity sighs. "Not you, Ty. You stay," she tells the dog. The hound looks confused, but runs to his mistress all the same.

Having reclaimed the other Tyrell, Valerity nods to the departing men. "Blackrood. Thorn." They've never been properly introduced, but one comes to know these things, in Oldtown. Then, folding her arms, she tells Abram, "I never said anything of the sort, since you never asked me."

"If we roused one for a tour," Laurent growls, considerably less delicate, "It would leave an empty bed." Still, he starts after the Blackrood, toward the entrance to the Hightower. As he passes Valerity, he manages a pitying look for her, or almost does. "You don't have to," he says brightly as he passes her, looking over his shoulder at Abram. "The loose-loving Mother herself knows I wouldn't let my sister marry him." And with that, he's off scene in the company of the Blackrood. Perhaps to clear a bed for the couple. Was he serious?

“Rather sure I just did,” Abram notes to Valerity first, before sparing a rude gesture for Laurent, Quill’s good wishes met with a smile and dip of his head. His eye and address return to the Redwyne then. “I’m a landed knight now, by the by. So I said to myself, ‘I know what sounds like fun: I’ll challenge a famed swordsman to a duel over that skinny ingrate of a Redwyne’.”

Deep blue eyes flashing like lightning hidden in stormclouds, Valerity delivers in low an silky riposte, "And you thought this skinny ingrate would fall swooning at your feet because you'd stabbed a man? Or because you have land — or both? Landed men stab each other all the time around here, Florent. Were that all it took to win me, I'd be married a score of times over."

"No, I imagined she'd posture and pretend she didn't care while secretly swooning over the fact that I fought a duel for her. Oh," Abram adds, recalling something else with a ready smile, "And being angry with herself for wanting to swoon, of course. That last ought go without saying really, but there you have it." His grin takes a turn toward the cocky.

Cocky smiles were made for only one or two things, neither of them good. First, foremost, and primarily? They were meant to be smacked. So it can't be a terrible surprise when Valerity's hand flies, intent on making a stinging connect with his cheek.

Abram's head is turned with the slap, working his jaw as the Florent turns his rueful grin back to face the lady. "Hello again, by the way."

Her jaw works, as well, clenched tight, eyes over-bright… And then she kisses him, fiercely, twining her arms around him and tangling her fingers in his hair. She presses close, body cleaving to his. She's going to ruin her gown with his blood. It's very likely she doesn't care.

Abram is still holding his bloodied sword in the right hand, so it us only the left which slips around the small of Valerity's back, holding her close against him, also heedless of the blood. The kiss is met with heat, only parting long enough to wonder, "Is that a yes?"

She can't find her voice at first, so she only nods, a series of them, quick and emphatic. "You stupid, stupid man," she whispers. Of course, she'd find her voice for that.

"Well clearly," Abram grins back to accusations of his stupidity. The smile digs deeper, a small chuckle stirs his throat as the knight presses a fresh kiss to the lady's lips.

Whatever retort she had for that, and surely there was one, is smothered and — ultimately — forgotten in his kiss. She wraps her arms tighter around him, so that the only way to tell her knees have given way is the slight increase of her body leaning into his. They remain that way for a long time, until even Tyrell grows bored and wanders off to find a page who'll play with him.

~Fin

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