(121-05-25) Taking Aim
Taking Aim
Summary: Ainsley and Riderch enjoy a spot of hunting.
Date: May 25, 2014
Related: An Unkindness of Blackwoods, Wings Unclipped

Quiet Pool — River Road

A couple of miles from the city there is a little wood, and at its Northern edge is a soft green meadow. Here a still pool is formed in the river by a big boulder embedded into the bank, a stone perhaps representing the furthest trickling trailing edge of the Uplands. It is worn smooth by the ages and large enough for several to sit, or a few to stretch out and take the sun.

The pool, sheltered from the current by the big stone, is broad and deep enough to make a pleasant swimming hole, and in the summer the water is always comfortably warm. This far upstream from the city, it's clean and quite clear.

It's been quite a ride out here from the city, if a pleasant one. Riderch's black courser was in an energetic state, and one would have gotten the sense that she hadn't been for a ride this distance in a number of days. He knew the spot, or so he said, although it took a little longer to get there than he said, he is absolutely sure it had to do with 'approaching it from the north, rather than the south.' But, and not without possible navigational assistance from his sister, the Blackwood siblings had puzzled out the route to the wood.

It's a charming little place, all things considered, as the sound of waterfowl drifting over the pool's surface, honks and chirps of birds of all types, large and small, would be audible.

The breeze gently flaps at Riderch's cape, who has brought his own bow, looking on at the view of the water from the edge of the wood, leaning against a tree with a serene calm.

Ainsley is patient, even with brothers who refuse to ask for directions. She rode out on her white and pale gray stallion, parts of his hide splotched and speckled as if made from stars. She's braided her hair, donned a tunic, leggings, boots and a cloak, her bow and quiver are at her back, and the ghostly Esra is on her arm, hooded until they arrive. When they dismount, she uncovers the bird's eyes and sends her soaring above them, circling the pool and the meadow. She removes her falconer's glove, tucking it into her belt, and walks over to where Riderch relaxes. "Tell me what you're thinking on, brother."

A crow chatters in the distance and it's a long long time before the man himself, clad in serviceable black-and-red leathers and other appropriate hunting gear emerges. He has his sword with him, but it's not a surprising thing in this place. A long-handled bastard sword with a blade really not much larger than your average longsword, the hilt taped black. He's not going to be doing any practicing with that thing, though.

"I'm thinking about the time I was out here with Jorah and Keyte Tyrell's people were half trying to steal our bloody boat. And then it started raining." He chuckles, shaking his head a little to banish the conversation. "It's quiet here." His bow is laid against the tree next to him and he has a quiver of arrows slung over his shoulder, crosswise over his cloak.

"Why did Keyte Tyrell want your boat?" Ainsley queries, her head cocking to the side, a bit like a hunting bird attempting to triangulate just where it's prey is hiding. A corner of her mouth lifts for that last, and she nods. "It is. I like this place."

"Because she is a sinister pirate, I am sorry to say." This is delivered with a bemused distance, and just enough levity to indicate that the story may be partially or entirely false. "And her people did not have one of their own. Unfortunately — rain ruined that whole endeavor." Barking out a singular laugh, he hefts his bow with a bird-like glance at his little sister. Although it might be important to note his bird looks less like a hunting bird and more of a shifty sort of raven. There's a strange symmetry here.

"I hope her dress was ruined," Ainsley opines for the Tyrell's piratical antics. Her shoulder rolls, swinging the bow down it so she can pluck it up in her hand and fetch out and arrow with the other. Her eyes brighten a little in anticipation. "What are we hunting, then? Hare? Partridge? Pheasant?"

"Those bloody people probably have a million of them. Although she herself is all right." Riderch says, carefully clenching his jaw. This snap-response comes fast. Almost a little too fast, when one considers.

He follows suit, although it is an interesting thing. Fast enough hand at most things, Riderch takes his time selecting the proper arrow and sort of faux-nocking it. A good bit of time.

"Pheasant." He offers. The man's hungry. Which is a little like saying the sky is overhead.

<FS3> Ainsley rolls Marksmanship: Great Success.
<FS3> Riderch rolls Marksmanship: Success.

Ainsley nods, moving out into the meadow. She's quiet for a while as she holds her bow at the ready. Listening. Watching. Slowly, she moves through the low grass and towards the taller clumps, head cocked again, gaze steady. And then, the arm holding the arrow pulls back, the bow is aimed, and the knocked arrow released. It plunges into a thick tangle of waist-length grass and a pheasant launches itself up into the air, shrieking out a shrill cry of panic. Ainsley looks upwards, smiling softly, as her speck of a falcon folds her wings and plunges. Esra collides mid-air with the pheasant, talons first, and the smaller bird goes wheeling to the ground. The falcon dives down after it, hunkering low on her gasping prey and snapping it neck with her notched beak.

In contrast, Riderch's shot is workmanlike. It's not the shot of a seasoned hunter, but rather, the methodical nock-draw-fire progression of a man who's spent time drilling on a range. He brings his arm back square as he seeks a target in the brush, one not quite as big as as his sister's, it is another member of the bouquet which is scattered about in this nearby clearing.

The elder Blackwood is looking to make an even brace. While not good enough to clear the bird in one, it is flushed out, bellowing in panic and rising above the treeline. This might make things easier. "Only one of us brought help, you know." He chides bemusedly as he reaches for another arrow and squints upwards.

<FS3> Ainsley rolls Marksmanship: Great Success.
<FS3> Riderch rolls Marksmanship: Failure.

Again, the arrow is nocked as Riderch jerks his bow upwards with a sharp tilt, his eyes narrowing as he squints up into the sky. The string is released and the arrow is let loose with a 'thunk', the shaft arcs through the air and goes wide. It's impossible to tell where the thing went exactly as the trees there are a bit thick. "Twunk." Well, it did lodge in something.

"Gods' blood." He says, in annoyance, reaching for another one. The pheasant he was aiming for, the one he originally flushed, is getting away now.

As the second pheasant wings upwards and Riderch's arrow misses its mark, Ainsley snatches another arrow from her quiver and sets it against her bow. She takes a moment to watch how the bird flies, anticipate its direction, and then pulls her arm back and releases. The arrow whistles up in an elegant arc, the point burying itself in the bird's breast. It too, goes tumbling back towards the earth. She glances over at Riderch and offers a faint, smug little smile. "When's the last time you took up bow and arrow, brother?" she chides.

As that satisfying 'thud' sounds, somewhere nearby, a Blackwood stomach will be grumbling in anticipation of dinner. In fact, it's happening right now. He watches Ainsley's handiwork with the same hand gripping the arrow cupped over his eyes to reduce the sky's glare. "Drills on the field." He utters noncommittally. "I think you are better than I ever was." This admission is a mixture of slightly stinging humility for him, but a certain esteemed pride for her. "Heh."

"Happy you decided to follow me down here, yet? I've been a bit busy the past few days." Which is of course why this little outing was suggested.

"Yes," Ainsley agrees for her skill with a bow, never one for false modesty, "I am. But you're more deadly with a sword than I shall ever be, so it's only fitting." She shrugs her bow back over her shoulder. "I had best fetch the pheasant from Esra before she gorges herself. And then, brother, you shall tell me what it is that has made you so melancholy. Something has. Something more than just being among all these Southron upstarts."

"I'd hope spending all that time with it would pay a result." Riderch Blackwood's response comes lazily here as he continues to scout out for the second dead bird. "I think we have different talents. Which would suit me fine, really. I don't know that this world could safely handle two of you or two of me."

Melancholy or no, Riderch roars out a peal of laughter as he tromps along to assist the retrieval of the carcasses, as well as spot any further targets in the distance. "We're our own little army, if you think about it. Maybe put a spear in Jorah's hand, also armed with his own unique little smell. All we need's —" He lets the thought linger for a moment. Perhaps he's mulling it over.

"You think I'm melancholy? Melancholy?"

"I've yet to meet our half-brother, though from everything you say of him, my anticipation of the moment only grows," Ainsley muses. She walks over to the hunched gyrfalcon, busy rending feathers and tearing bites of meat from her kill. Ainsley slides her glove on and fetches a morsel of rabbit from a pouch at her hip. Clasping it in the thumb and first finger of the gloved hand, she holds it down to Esra. After a moment, the falcon climbs onto her mistress's arm to begin eating the offered morsel, and Ainsley picks up the dead pheasant, by the feet, with her other hand. "I do," she informs her brother. "Less so than when I first came, but yes. You had that distant, lonely look about you."

"Aine — Jorah is a soldier. Since Tewdric — well, you know how he was." Riderch's breath is loosed in an audible sigh and he makes a grand show of shaking his head, stopping for a moment as he walks along to observe his sister at work, paying attention to her handling of the bird with a certain abject curiosity. He's always been a little fascinated by how she just does that.

In contrast, her brother has never had such a skill, although that is not for wont of trying. At least his horse is better trained than the raven.

Trudging further into the woods now, he looks upon the small copse of trees where the other pheasant fell before Esra can do his bloody work. He stoops to retrieve it. "He couldn't find a calling near us so he went south. I am a little shocked that Father called for him to come here but I think at this point Father realizes that we need all the strength we can muster." He still hasn't addressed the second question properly, and takes another breath before doing so.

"I was away from home. Now part of home has come to me. But still I'm not home." He offers, lamely, before adding, "I've just seen a lot, here. I've travelled, for certain, but not this far South and not amongst these people. I've had to work hard to befriend strangers, Aine. Strangers, you would always call them that."

"And they always shall be," Ainsley agrees, following after her brother with Esra on her arm. The bird finishes off the chunk of rabbit, and Ainsley offers a second in the same way. "Even should I marry one, in some ways, my husband shall never be more than a stranger." The thought calls a small sigh past her lips. "You have friends here, now, brother. Perhaps, in a little while, we ought to go home for a visit, if you miss it so."

"It isn't the home that I knew." comes a quick retort from Riderch, as the man says this with a slightly unpleasant edge. Perhaps he did not even mean it so. "It hasn't been." The words come as his boots rustle through the grass. "And won't be what it was. I could have just led the men once Donal Fenn was too old to be able. Kept watch on the Disputed Roads." Because Brackens, they do like to cause trouble there. "That would have been enough of a life for me."

As he walks further to deposit the kill he is carrying in a relatively safe place, he hefts the poor dead carcass by the neck and sets it down. Something does eat at him though as he wheels his head about to look after his sister. "You don't ever have to marry anyone you don't wish to for as long as I'm breathing so put that out of your head right now." He begins, sounding a little indignant. "Like that little prancing twit was eyeing you up like you were easy pickings. Hhnmph. I don't care how much gold these ponces can swing in our direction. And remember, Father won't listen to me all the time, but he'll listen to Mother." And, well, we know who she listens to.

"No," Ainsley agrees softly, laying her own bird more gently down beside Riderch's, "It will never quite be that home, again, for any of us. But it is home. Our legacy and our land. More reason to visit, if you fear it." Her smile is soft as she listens to that last promise. "I wish I could offer you some return assurances, but we both know there is nothing I can do to keep you from taking up the mantle Tewdric left behind. I wish it did not burden you so deeply. The responsibility ought to be a heavy one, but not to the point of heartsickness."

"And I know, this is — whatever things about it I bloody hate I have to do them. And I will. Please allow me that moment to bawl like a child. Which I am done with, for now." The response to Ainsley is delivered as the two birds are carefully arranged, and he slings his bow under his arm again.

Riderch huffs out a breath. "Pffft. We'll be all right. We'll be all right, Featherhead." A grin as broad as the sky is shot at her before he turns about to study the horizon and look on to where the Bouquet has likely fled to, he continues. "So, have you met anyone interesting yet, around the city?"

"Of course we will," Ainsley agrees, following after her brother and sending Esra into the sky again, once they clear the trees. "We are ravens. We survive everything and feast on the fallen." Her own gaze lifts to the sky, though more to watch the soaring gyrfalcon that the stretch of blue. "Not yet," she admits with a soft sigh. "But I mean to go to the marketplace tomorrow to order furniture and wall hangings more suitable to the house. Perhaps I shall encounter someone of interest, then."

And with that, the bow is lifted upwards as he accepts this general speech of encouragement from Ainsley with the same good cheer that so many have seen. "Whatever you do, I would implore you to not waste your time with this little bald Braavosi in the Blue Row of the market. That man is an incorrigible swindler." Comes this charming, chuckling bit of advice. "Well, good. There are other things here, too. The Citadel. Did you know there is a Weirwood there?" He stops, scanning the distance for hint of a bird. Bird-sign. His arrow is nocked. "It still lives, too."

"I had heard, but I was not sure if it was just rumor. Have you seen it, then?" Ainsley asks, glancing over at her brother before shrugging down her bow and nocking her own arrow. "What do they look like, alive?"

<FS3> Riderch rolls Marksmanship: Success.
<FS3> Ainsley rolls Marksmanship: Good Success.

"A great, snow-white tree. It looks alive. The Children of the Forest used to carve them, right?" Riderch asks, the voice of a man struggling to reclaim a heritage he cannot fully grasp. "Sometimes when I stand in its presence, it feels like they're listening. They are listening. It is on the Isle of Ravens."

His mouth flickers into a half-warm half-smile which blooms upward as he lets loose his next arrow. It looks like another of the birds was discovered. Again, the bird is flushed, even if this arrow narrowly misses the mark.

"Sometimes I go there. Usually I'm alone in that."

"Yes," Ainsley agrees, "and the First Men after, though none have been carved in a very long time." She leaves the fleeing bird to Esra, who once again dives and barrels the hapless creature to the ground. It's panicked shriek is ended abruptly by the falcon vertebra-severing bite. She sends another arrow flying into a patch of grass and thistle. A fourth bird wings upwards and she smiles. "A good day for hunting."

<FS3> Riderch rolls Marksmanship: Failure.
<FS3> Ainsley rolls Marksmanship: Good Success.

Again, the old pattern is formed. First shot flush. Second a wide miss. "Oh..fuck." He grumbles. One of Riderch's courtly faults is that around certain people, he does not bother to watch his language. And unfortunately, Ainsley is one of those blessed 'certain people.' By now she probably understands the horrible truth about this. The arrow flies wide, missing the fleeing pheasant and lodging itself into treebark. Bark much darker than that of the aforementioned Weirwood.

"It is for some of us." He says, petulantly. "Mmm. The Weirwood. I don't know, I got close to it. It's not like ours. But ours is a grand thing all its own. You should just go ahead and see it."

Ainsley takes her shot, once Riderch makes his attempt. The arrow hisses through the air and the fourth bird falls, dead, to the ground. She flashes her brother a wide, vulpine grin. "Indeed, so," she agrees cheerfully for 'some of us'. But, a bit more somberly, she nods. "I shall," she promises quietly. "I should like to."

A pattern has been established, here. "I flush. You kill. I like how this works." There's a sort of familiarity that Riderch falls into here without even realizing it. Maybe there's a metaphor there. The elder brother is not that sore about missing this time as the bird falls.

"I think it'll be time to get some coals gathered, you think?" For a second, Riderch's grin is directed towards her, and it is exactly the same as his sister's. And it's a little bit of an eerie thing. Two Hunters from a time this land tried to forget descending on this place ensuring that they will not be forgotten along with it.

"Oh, the Starks invited me to visit. Maybe you'd like to see them too? I mean, I'm sure they would have invited you. But you were not here. You were there. Aaaand now you're here." Simple logic.

"Then so long as it wouldn't be untoward, I'd be very glad to visit with the Starks," Ainsley agrees with a nod. "I think you're right about the coals. Four pheasants is enough, and if Esra eats much more, she'll be useless for days. Let's retrieve what arrows we can and make a meal." She begins walking over to the gyrfalcon to lure her off her second kill with a few more meaty gobs of rabbit.

"Lord Carolis and the Snow that follow him are amusing companions. They actually smile, laugh, unlike so many of the Northerners here." Riderch's observation comes swiftly. "Good archers too. Maybe you can shoot with him, he'll actually keep up with you. Because you see what sort of a sad state I have fallen into." Riderch laughs despite himself as he nods to Ainsley in agreement. "That'd better be some choice rabbit." He offers.

It should be blatantly obvious to Lady Blackwood that her brother's stomach is on fire. "So they get these peppers here from the south. You should try them. Stuff a chicken with them, it changes the whole chicken." Bootsteps rustle in the grasses of the woods as he starts to fend after his arrows.

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