(121-05-26) Creatures on the Beach
Creatures on the Beach
Summary: Ainsley and Andolin, with their respective beasts, meet on the shore.
Date: May 26, 2014
Related: none, directly

Crescent Beach — Blackcrown Road

This is a little sandy-pebbly stretch of the Whispering Sound's shoreline, crescent-shaped and somewhat sheltered by the more precipitous coastline to either side of it. Terns and gannets and kittiwakes nest on the sheerest portions to the North and South, but it's much gentler here and the tiny inlet even offers good anchorage for small boats of shallow draft. The city of Oldtown, marked by the great bright spire of the Hightower, can be seen across the water to the Northwest.

There's a steep switchbacking track leading up to the Blackcrown Road.

It's a warm day and somewhat overcast, a fine day to be out and enjoying the bits of nature surrounding Oldtown. Ainsley Blackwood has ridden down to the beach, a single guard keeping her company and, as they are alone, seeing to the two horses. Ainsley herself stands nearer the surf, where the sand is wet. Her shoes have been removed and the sleeves of her shirt have been rolled up. The hem of her simple skirt is already wet and sandy, but she doesn't seem to notice. Her attention is up on the overcast sky, or rather on a small shape soaring in it. She holds a string with what looks like a pair of partridge wings attached to one end, and she's got it twirling over her head like a lasso. After giving a sharp whistle, she swings the lure low, and the shape in the sky manifests itself as a diving gyrfalcon who follows the lure as it's swung out and ahead of her, the false bird dipping away just when the falcon would grab it. The gyrfalcon wings back up into the sky as the girl loops the lure up around her head, again, and repeats the strange little dance.

Andolin's horse isn't a particularly sleek or flashy animal. It's a heavy, thick northern horse, thick of coat and with feathered legs and a roman nose, and is a bit on the chunky side of things. It's a blue roan with deep black points, and it ambles along in the surf. He's on it bareback at the moment, and he's got a bit of a silly grin as the animal splashes and paws about in the water, getting them both soaked, at least up to the horse's belly - it's warm out, though, so there's no real concern. The horse is the first to notice the falconry play, and it gives a noisy huff of mild alarm. Subtle, they are not. Andolin, though? His attention's pulled up, and he just watches for a moment, a little intrigued.

Ainsley whistles again and drops the lure, sending the gyrfalcon in another elegant arch that has her dipping low and the rising high, again. She makes the bird plunge three more times before tossing the lure up and letting the white bird capture it and barrel it to the ground. She stands hunched over her 'kill', wings spread, plucking at the thing's feathers. Ainsley leaves her to it a moment as she looks out to the surf, where there's a boy on a horse.

Andolin stays still for a time, just watching. His horse loses interest in the falconry, though, and starts pawing about again. It's not until the animal does that little shifting about that heralds the fact that he's thinking about rolling in the sand that Andy actually pays attention, giving him a nudge in the ribs to get him moving again, drifting closer without angling directly for her. "That's impressive," he offers as he nears enough to be heard, as his sandy, wet equine looks thoroughly pleased with itself for being sandy and wet.

"She's an impressive bird," Ainsley agrees. Her voice holds no smugness. This is fact, not opinion. She picks up the falconer's glove from where it lies in the sand, tugging it on. A bit of meat is pinched between gloved thumb and forefinger, and this is used to urge the gyrfalcon off the lure and onto the glove for a proper meal. "Do you often go riding in the ocean?"

Andolin grins a little as he watches the bird, a smidge of open curiosity there. "I've never watched someone training them before like that," he observes, and at her question he looks down at a wet boot, as though just realizing how rumpled he probably looks. "I wouldn't say often," he says with a shrug of a shoulder. "But it's hot, and he likes to cool himself off in the water after a ride."

"After, I can understand," Ainsley agrees, "but during?" A corner of her mouth quirks in a soft smile. "Actually," she confides, "it looks refreshing." The gyrfalcon finishes its morsel of food, fluffs herself up and gives her body a full shake, sending the bells on her jesses jingling. "It's practice. To remind her to watch me when we hunt. And exercise, for the days we don't hunt."

Andolin gives a bright sort've grin. "It is," he says. "And besides, I was hot, too." Because poor, poor northern blood in the south. He doesn't look particularly embarrassed, though, and he watches the bird move about with more curiosity. "Just like training any animal, I suppose," he agrees. "Have you been working with birds for a while?"

"Since I was ten," Ainsley replies, smiling fondly over at the creature perched on her arm. "I've had Esra since I was thirteen, so we know each other quite well, now." Looking back at Andolin, she notes, "Training is training, I find. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, men. We all learn more or less the same."

Andolin looks just a shade surprised. "Oh. I bet. You said you hunt with her, too? I've ridden with falconers during hunts, and it's always interesting to watch." He gives his horse a pat on the neck for standing patiently, and he remembers his manners. "Andolin Stark, by the way."

"Yes, that is exactly right," Ainsley agrees with a soft smile. "I hunt with her. She allows the company and I flush game. But it's Esra who does the hunting, unless I bring my bow. I can train her to return to my glove and to allow me to ride or walk beneath her, to watch me so she sees the game I find for her. But the ability to hunt… that she was born with. It is none of my doing." She looks from the bird to the boy and her smile brightens at her name. "My lord," she greets, "I am Lady Ainsley Blackwood. How fine to meet a Stark. If you should like to accompany Esra and myself hunting, you should be most welcome."

"M'lady," Andolin returns the greeting, easily and with a little smile. "And that makes sense. I know birds are clever. It must be a great thing to have a bond with an animal like that." The offer, though? That takes him a little by surprise, and it's not difficult to see the interest. "That would be an honor. It's been a while since I've gone on a proper hunt. I'm a fair shot with a bow."

"Then we shall eat well," Ainsley approves reaching over to flick a bit of dangling gore from Esra's beak. "I will send a card when I next plan to hunt. Early next week, I expect. Or is that too forward?"
Andolin has reconnected.

"Though Blue here isn't the quietest of hunting animals," Andy says, fondly aiming a wry look toward the back of the large horse's ears. "And it's not too forward at all. I have no plans. I'll look forward to it."

"You don't need quiet when you're hunting with a falcon," Ainsley replies. "So long as she's up in the sky, if your Blue startles a bird out of the undergrowth, so much the better." She smiles and nods. "Good, then. I shall send word, and if any of your family should like to join you, they would be welcome. My brother speaks quite fondly of a Carolis Stark and his man, Tellur Snow."

Andolin grins. "True enough," he admits. "And he'll be good at that." The horse pulls at the reins a little, and he lets the animal have his head to go nosing about on the sand a little. Likely trying to find grazing, but good luck with that. "I'll ask them. Both would be glad to get out of the city walls for a bit, I think." He pauses, though, regarding her with a bit of curiosity. "Who's your brother?"

"Lord Riderch Blackwood," Ainsley replies, and although she doesn't say it, the 'of course!' is rife in her tone. Her mouth lifts up into another one of those small smiles. "Have you met him?"

The name clearly sparks some recognition, at least. "Oh, yes, I know him. Not well, but I have spoken with him. He rode with us against the Wildlings, so the times I did speak with him were in the camps." Andolin's brows lift a little. "And he's a man who I'm glad we had with us, I'll tell you that."

"He mentioned having done so," Ainsley replies with a small nod, her head dipping into a small nod for Andolin's words. "My brother can be very fierce and a skilled warrior. I'm glad he came to your aid if you were in need."

"Well," Andolin says, more consideringly, "Not me, personally, but I'm an archer, so I try to stay out of the thick of things." Indeed, the young Stark doesn't exactly look like he belongs in the thick of battle. "But for the aid he gave all of us." He regards the bird, then, and gives a small smile. "What kind of things do you go hunting for with her?"

Ainsley nods for Andolin's words. "Help in a larger sense," she allows before looking over at Esra who blinks calmly back with her bright yellow eyes. "Esra's a gyrfalcon, so she primarily hunts other birds. Partridges, pheasants, doves… anything that flies, really, she will strike. If you prefer rabbit, vole, any small ground creatures, it's a hawk you want."

Andolin chuckles. "I don't pretend to know the difference between what type of bird you would use for what," he says easily, but seems interested. "I'll look forward to going hunting with you. For now, though, I should get him back to the stables and dry him off before it gets too late. It was a pleasure running into out here, though."

Ainsley smiles and dips herself into a small, polite curtsy, Esra bobbing calmly with her, bells jingling. "I suppose I had best do the same. I enjoyed speaking with you, Andolin Stark. I hope your evening treats you well."

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