(121-05-26) Crowded Island
Crowded Island
Summary: The Citadel's Isle of Ravens gets numerous and unexpected guests.
Date: May 26, 2014
Related: Creatures on the Beach, Taking Aim

Isle of Ravens — The Citadel

This little island is linked to the eastern bank of the Honeywine by a weathered old drawbridge. It is usually kept down, but is in working order. The stone stronghold that covers most of the little spot of land is the oldest of the Citadel's buildings, and while it is sound, it shows its age and the effects of centuries of weather. It consists of two moss-covered towers. The Eastern one houses the black ravens, and the western one the white. In between is a walled courtyard, home to one of the only Weirwood trees remaining in the south.

The isle is a noisy place — visitors are constantly serenaded with the quorks and creaks and odd speaking voices of the ravens.

It's a warm summer evening as the breeze gently nips at the foliage and brings the smells of the foliage and the river this island floats upon. The rough creaks and croaks of the Isle of Ravens' reason for being continually rip through the air overhead, slightly disturbing the tranquility this place might have on normal circumstances. The Black and White birds chatter away sometimes in unison, and sometimes in a finely divided call-and-response chorus. It was a pleasant trip here, all things considered.

Riderch Blackwood has been talking about this place enough that it's not quite sure who first suggested this little outing. Him or his sister. The weather's nice, sure, the towers are a sight, and even the gardens are quite something. But that's not why they are here.

For nestled within the courtyard just a short stroll away, some stark, white tree-bark can be eyed. Particularly if one knows what they're looking for.

Riderch's wearing a lightweight tunic and breeches and his familiar old cloak that he seems to love so much. A sword's at his side, but that's again more of an affectation than an expectation of any trouble. Every now and then, visitors can be seen but at this hour most people have better things to do than hang out in a garden with strange old icons of the land's strange old past.

Ainsley walks beside her brother in a dark red dress trimmed with black along cuffs, collar and hem. A silver belt cinches at her waist and her hair is pinned up in a low but intricate coil, a couple of Esra's white and black molted feathers twirling down from her bound hair on thin, silver chains. She watches the city as they move through it, and then the spires and arches of the citadel. But she smiles softly at the croak of the various ravens and that hint of white and red. "Oh, look," she murmurs to her brother, "I can see its leaves. I've never seen one before that yet had leaves on it."

"They say there are some others, below the Neck. If one knows where to look. Caves where the Andals forgot to look." Riderch's voice breathes out the words a little haplessly. He reaches out in the air to beckon Ainsley along, but the — redundancy of such a gesture seems to dawn on him as he just drops his hand, they both continue forth. "I'd heard. I'd read. But never seen." He finally comments further, said hand is raised once again as an unfurled finger stretches through the air and points at the bright red leaves.

"So they built around it."

"It should have a forest," Ainsley murmurs as they approach the weirwood and she walks in a slow circle around the base of the ghost white tree. "It shouldn't be all alone, between spires of trapped ravens."

Should-haves don't elicit a wordy response from her brother, this is true. But Riderch grunts a 'hmming' tone indicating that he's in far from disagreement with her. "This whole city should have a bloody forest, then." He offers. "I wonder — I was never able to find an answer. Of why out of so many, this one was spared?" As Ainsley walks in one direction around it, Riderch slowly walks around it in the other as he speaks. It's not a 'new' sight for him per se, but his eyes are definitely focused on it. 'Rawwwwwrk'. One particularly loud raven from above belts out.

"Because this is a place of learning," Ainsley answers, resting her palm reverently against the pale bark and stroking her fingers down the tree as gently as she might stroke a pet, "and the wise would prefer to study that which they cannot explain rather than destroy it." Glancing over at Riderch, she laughs. "And before that, this island was a stronghold for a pirate lord that robbed ships as they sailed down the Honeywine. But that was the age of heroes, and the weirwoods were sacred to all, then."

"I cannot really deny the sense in that, I suppose. It's always come in, slash, burn. Always the same thing for so many." comes the response, as he paces around the Great Tree itself. He cants his head to one side, catching her laugh and it's a slow, bemused observation. "After the First Men had learned their ways, I believe. I suppose they were sacred then. Even to Pirate lords." Riderch chimes in on the brief journey through history. "How far things have f—" he blinks, his breath coming up in a slow, rueful laugh. "Fallen." He probably meant to add a couple expletives there but now's not the time nor the place. He diverts his gaze sharply upward to the crimson foliage. "I've been here a few times. You can always tell one of the First Men in this place. Always go straight here."

"Especially to pirate lords," Ainsley argues, turning a little so she can press her back up against the weirwood and slide slowly down until she's sitting among the ancient tree's tangled roots. "Who needs a wink from the gods more than the inglorious?" Her smile softens as she adds, "Perhaps if we wait here, then, we will meet all of them."

"Forgive me if sometimes I think the worst of some people." Riderch's request cuts through the air incisively, but his voice is — Well, Ainsley might have noticed this, but it becomes warm. Quite warm. He stretches his arms outwards in a lazy sort of yawn, shifting his head and shoulders in opposite directions as he lets it loose. "But who knows who'll you find?" A quizzical half-smile flickers in his sister's direction as he pads over closer to the tree itself and places his back against it, leaning and then slumping downward, giving his sword a shift so he doesn't trip over it. And down onto the ground, under the Weirwood he goes, staring up at the towers of shrieking birds.

"I will forgive you for it," Ainsley allows magnanimously, smiling as her brother joins her on the ground, their backs resting against the bark of the tree, made warm with the heat of the air. "That is the fun of it, is it not? The mystery of who might seek out this place besides you and I."

"I've run into a few here. Always good company though. I suppose it's the Weirwood's influence." Riderch notes, idly, as he fumbles with his belt and pulls a long knife from its sheath, twirling it idly between his fingertips in one hand and resting his other on the great ivory-hued trunk of it. "It's strange, though. They spend more time in the city — I think I understand why though. I've felt it too. It's as though I'm being pulled to become a thing of this place. I don't mean this place, but the City itself, and the Reach. You suppose this is what so many people like us felt when their kingdoms just collapsed?"

Beneath her skirt, Ainsley draws up her legs, loosely hooking her arms around them as she considers the question. "Perhaps. I imagine, when it seems that all you have is lost, there is comfort in clinging to what made another strong, or seemed to. And, of course, to blend in is to go unnoticed, and to go unnoticed is to be safe. It takes great courage and strength of character to turn away from that."

"No I mean —" There's a certain pause that Ainsley's surety brings out in him here, as if it's something that is just a little too far over the proverbial bridge for him to fully grasp. "No. When I'm here, it feels easier. But when you're setting fire to your own bloody time making appearances with local Lords, bloody royalty, dragging your eyes through trade manifests, competing in in a tournament," there's a pointed, dry cough as the lazyily sprawled-out man flips the knife back and forth in his palm amd then drives it deep into the ground. "Which, as an aside, I received some very choice words from father about. It's strength, for certain. But it's also the living in 'their' world and not 'ours'." He crooks his head about and hangs it upside down, like a reclining cat and glancing at her. "We have to do these things to maintain our own way of life, you know? But —"

Ainsley considers her upside-down brother, reaching a hand over to flick lightly at what little hair he has on top of his shorn head. "Do we?"

"Don't we?" Comes a sort of off-guard, slightly petulant reply. His nose wrinkles at the flick. Wheezing out a laugh, he hangs there as he continues to talk to her. "Are we sworn to people that keep Our ways? And why not?"

"We serve the king," Ainsley replies, as sure of that as she is of anything else, "Their line aided ours and that was the price. But the Starks serve the king as well. The Flints. The Boltons. We do not need to bow to the new gods to bow to the Targaryens. We should not make war with our neighbors… one neighbor excepted… but that does not mean we must become them."

"Well, that's e —" Riderch's goofy-looking pose adopts a goofy-looking turn of expression, as the man squints a little and eyes Ainsley inquisitively. It lingers a little longer than one might expect. "You know — I'm just too tired to come up with a convincing argument to that that you can't just" he rips the knife out of the earth and swipes it through the air in a woosh, before stuffing it back where it was. "just cut to ribbons. And I don't serve Their gods. We'd settled that." Despite the sort of argumentative tone he takes, there's an upside-down smile there being shot straight at her. "This isn't about shows of fealty. Just a sense of belonging." He pauses a beat. "How was the market?" Changing the subject, or at least attempting to. This is a thing that he does.

"You don't serve them," Ainsley agrees, "but you still pretend to, Ser Riderch." Ainsley reaches a finger out, this time to press it to the tip of her brother's nose. Boop. "I went to the beach, instead," she confides wryly. "I made it to the market, and then I just couldn't stomach the press of people, the tightness of it. I hate it when it feels as if there's no air. So I took Esra and I rode to the beach. And I met a Stark there, running his horse through the surf. He may come hunting with us, next week. I invited him, at any rate."

"Pfft. Do you know what's going to happen if I ever 'win' one of their sanctioned contests? A Hedge Knight already 'knighted' this sword-swinging woman from the Stormlands and she was adding her own bloody God to their list. Have to put an eighth point on that bloody star. So imagine what will happen when the great Heretic Knight desecrates the field in Oldtown as he carves a Rune of the First Men and the outline of our great Undying Tree in the middle of it? I might get banned for life." Riderch sounds as though at this point the prospect of being 'banned' would only entertain him more. Also, there is a playful sourness at the poke. "Hey, careful where you put that thing. Someone might lose an eye." He makes a grab for her finger but it's so slow and telegraphed that he's clearly not going to get it.

He does, however, shift positions now as he edges up against the tree, leaning at it with his side. He's not looking up at the noisy towers now, but rather looking at her. "Oh, huh? A Stark? Anyone I know?" He inquires, his eyes narrowing intently.

"Hmm…" Ainsley muses, apparently weighing if such a bold statement is worth the months and months of playing the faithful knight. She blinks, brows lifting, as Riderch mentions a lady knight with a new god. "Really? What god?" She nods for the Stark. "He said he met you during the attack on the Wildlings. Andolin Stark."

"She was talking a lot about, you know, a lady with a big bloody sword. She seemed a little sad when I laughed at the idea, although not for the proper reasons." Riderch chats away as he lounges against the Weirwood Tree by his side. There's a knife planted in the ground next to him and he's talking with Ainsley in a rather animated fashion. "I figure if you're going to immerse yourself in nonsense, you might as well do something inspired with it." He collapses into a sudden and hoarse series of laughs, his teeth flashing broadly.

"Hm, oh, yes. I remember him. Didn't have a chance to speak with him much, with all the commotion and foolishness but he was entertaining from what I remember? We were both drinking so much in that camp that I hope I made a favorable impression. The whole thing was a confusing business and there was something going on there that looked very, very wrong."

Ainsley reclines amid the weirwood roots, legs drawn up beneath her gown and arms loosely draped around them. She's watching as her brother cackles like the raven he is, smiling softly as she listens. "So long as you came home safely and left that wrongness behind, I am not concerned. He seemed a nice enough fellow. He was interested in Esra, so of course I liked him."

Carolis does actually study sometimes. Yeah, he's that foreign exchange student who parties all the time, but once in a rare while he shows up for class. And after he's read the scrolls the Maester tutoring him asked him to read, he takes a stroll down to the island. This time, he's not particularly surprised to see he's not alone. "Ser Riderch," he says warmly. He'd know that cackle anywhere, even sober now. He approaches a little more briskly now from his slow wander. "Hello." To Ainsley, he inclines his head politely and flashes her a dimpled smile. Why, hello there, too.

"Arrow ripped a hole in the maile. And another one. Lost my favorite shield too." Riderch recounts the litany of damage and injury that befell him on that bloody escapade. "Nearly lost more than that too but I'm too polite to talk about such things." The elder Blackwood rumbles a groan deep, deep from his throat. Also, polite? Him?

"He seemed like he he knew a thing or two. I suppose he wouldn't be afraid of Esra at least. It'd be nice to get out, and —" There's a voice that does cut through the evening that causes him to trail off, rather rapidly even as he looks from Ainsley to a familiar sort. His hackles aren't raised, she would note, as he sits forward. "Well. Speaking of just — running across the First Men." The girl sitting with him is given something of a gentle elbow-nudge into her shoulder. "And you were right." There's something about these two, maybe it's movements, or expressions that indicates a certain familiarity. "Lord Carolis. It's nice to see you without drinks being thrown, fits being thrown, and drunken sulking."

Ainsley smirks over at Riderch, and for that nudge, she reaches over to give an equally playful shove to his shoulders. Then she turns her attention up to the First Man in question, her brows lifting just a little for that quick and dimpled smile. "See? I told you it would work," she informs Riderch, "and it has. Lord Carolis, my brother has mentioned you as a friend, and so I am most pleased to meet you. But as he lacks terribly in manners, let me introduce myself. Lady Ainsley Blackwood. How do you do?"

Carolis's brows lift, and he glances between them. Her brother, which makes her Riderch's sister, which gives the Northron an ever so concerned look, if only briefly. He bows to Ainsley and says, "Lady Ainsley, what a pleasure it is to meet you. I hope he has been kind in his assessment?" He shoots Riderch some side-eye, then a broad grin. "Poor Tellur. I thought it was funny."

Would a man who lacks so terribly in manners do what he is doing right now? Yes, in fact, Riderch Blackwood would. He just pokes his sister in the shoulder with the slyest of motions before letting his arm drop, with the practice of someone who has probably been involved in these sorts of contests for years. The odd smile doesn't dissapate though, and he says with a clearing of his throat. "Excuse me. This is the Lady Ainsley Blackwood. My little sister, and as you can see, inheiritor of all of our best family traits. Far surpassing even me. But that should be self-evident already." He grins broadly now as he turns to her and repeats, "Yes, this is Lord Carolis Stark. He's one of the people I've run into here before. For obvious reasons, one might note."

Back to Carolis now. "Nothing but good things, for you've been nothing but good in my presence, Lord." It's an honorific, but a breezy one. "She just — showed up a few days ago. I think this place is better for it. Oh, and I guess she met Lord Andolin earlier?" Finally, and a little bit belatedly, he adds about poor Tellur's drinky adventure, "I suppose it was. I don't know. I was glad there weren't more drinks flying that night."

"Yes," Ainsley agrees cheerfully for Riderch's magnanimous statements, "I'm quite extraordinary." She smirks, reaching over to give a crisp yank on the lower lobe of her brother's ear. "I did meet Lord Andolin. Down on the beach this afternoon. It was suggested we might all go hunting together sometime, soon. You, he, myself, my brother and your friend Tellur Snow." Then she blinks and looks over at Riderch, frowning faintly. "What was funny?"

Carolis perks up. "Hunting? I would love to. I've got to get out of the city soon before I go mad." He glances at the dead Weirwood, and his lips purse briefly. "I miss the woods in the snow. I would like to see it again." He shakes his head. It didn't take long for homesickness to set in. His attention returns to the siblings, and he gives a knowing grin at the ear-tugging and poking. "Andy's a good man, and you'll never meet a better horseman."

"Aine's" — notice the use of a nickname here, already, "been giving me a reprieve from the bottled-up madness. It's what happens." Riderch observes, his tone dripping with wry amusement. There's a certain light and warmth to his eyes, as he pats the smooth white of one of the Reach's last-living Weirwood trees behind him and gives his sister a look right after the lobe pull. "But for what it's worth, I understand how you feel." To Carolis still, until he shifts to address Ainsley. "Hunting wouldn't be a bad bit of business. Particularly with a better archer." He glumly admits. "I meant, better than me." Is he still sore about being outscored?

"Oh, uh — we were at this fete. A drunk Targaryen Knight who I'd never seen in my life comes out and manages to embarass himself, me, and half the gathering as he whipped his wine all over poor Tellur's head." He pauses a beat. "Now, I did the same thing to Jorah the other day but he was asking for it."

Ainsley blinks slowly at her brother, canting her head to the side. "You poured Jorah on Tellur Snow's head?" she queries. To Carolis she notes, "It's stifling here. I don't know how you can stay amid so many buildings day in and day out without choking. It's why I was down at the beach, today. And Lord Andolin was indeed on a horse. Walking it through the surf to cool the pair of them, I suppose. I wasn't quite so bold."

"I spend a lot of time at the beach," Carolis says. "Actually, I'm thinking of getting a little house outside of town. I would stay at Weirwood Manse, of course, but for those times when I need to get away. No servants, just the quiet, and hopefully a cool breeze coming in off the water." He sighs, and he gets a distant look, so wistful. Then he snaps out of it and says to the Blackwoods, "And of course to invite friends for a fete where slinging drinks around will be part of the fun."

"Well, I wouldn't refuse an invitation like that. I think I've been going mad. Slowly, over the last four months. It's like a little voice, gnawing at the inside of my head and it only gets worse —" Riderch is in fact still reclining on the ground, lazily against the Tree. Not just any Tree, but the Great Big Weirwood. His arms are crossed now in front of his chest as he turns towards Ainsley, narrowing his eyes a bit and sort of falling silent, giving her one of those prompting glances that basically would scream 'you know' to her. Because, y'know — she knows. "I would rather though keep the throwing things to a minimum. I'm going to develop something of a worse reputation than I already have if I do that. Although I managed to keep them in hand that night." There's a single snicker that launches through the elder Blackwood's nostrils.

"Well, how about it? And I didn't pour Jorah on Tellur Snow's head, good gods, Aine. That's — he didn't do anything to deserve THAT." He coughs a little, but note that he doesn't elaborate. He did however state that he did dump wine on someone's head at some point for some reason. But maybe Jorah's just like that. Or maybe throwing drink at Bastards is just what we do in the Reach now.

"That is an inspired idea, my lord," Ainsley approves. She gives her brother a big, blue-eyed look. They should build a house outside of town! Can they do that? They need to do that! Vacation neighbors! She smirks softly, resting her chin on her knees as she's corrected. "Oh, I see," he murmurs. "Well, that's much better then." Her head lifts and she glances between the two men. "Hunting tomorrow, then? As a brief respite before homes are built and a proper escape can be arranged?"

"I should be able to make it," Carolis says. "I will try to go easy on you, Ser," he tells Riderch with a wink. The glove has been thrown down, sir. "I can't say the same for Andy. Were you there when he shot all of those Wildlings in the second battle? I was getting disemboweled by an ambush, and there he is picking off one after another. He never took a scratch, the whole campaign." His tone is a mixture of admiration and annoyance. To Ainsley, he says, "Do you hunt with a bow, my lady?"

It's entirely probable that two out of the three people here wouldn't expect to see a pale-haired Targaryen crossing the bridge that leads to this little island, but regardless of expectations, one does. Elionys leaves her guard at the bridge and slowly makes her way towards the tree, slow steps slowing further as she finds a pack of Old God types present.

"I had more holes in me than a sheep in Hoster Bracken's bedch —" He gives a look between the two, half expecting Carolis to catch on as he says this oft-repeated phrase, coughing a bit. "I should watch my manners." Riderch notes apologetically, although clearly this is for Ainsley's benefit. And clearly she's heard this from him before as well. "At least, that's how it felt." He finishes commenting on that campaign with a wry, crooked smirk. "I did find that they clearly were scared when facing a charge. A real charge." He says to Carolis offhandedly.

All talk of smacking Wildlings is put aside for a moment as he addresses the other issues on the table. "She hunts with a bow and I bloody taught her to shoot. And now she's far and away better than I'll ever be." He says proudly as he lightly nudges Ainsley again with a poke in her shoulder. "You do bring quite the helper, though. And — well, we should get out more." He's not rushing to build a vacation home, but he does relish the thought. "It's settled. You're good company, Lord Carolis. And we should go. It will be good for you," the 'you' here, is Ainsley, 'good for you,' Carolis, 'and probably good for me to spend more time there. Clear my head. Gods know I need it." So immersed in this conversation, he hasn't immediately noticed any further interlopers just yet.

Ainsley opens her mouth to answer Carolis's question, but Riderch gets there first, and she smiles softly. "I do hunt with a bow," she explains redundantly, "and also with a falcon. Sometimes one or the other, but often both if there are no dogs or it's just a very small party. Will you relay the invitation to Lord Andolin and Tellur Snow for us, my lord?" And then her gaze drifts, as a woman with very pale hair and very purple eyes arrives on the isle of ravens. Ainsley's brows lift and then furrow in mild confusion. What would bring a Targaryen to a weirwood?

Carolis laughs quietly and says, "Riderch, there are ladies present." Scandal! "Oh yes, a real charge. We did thin them out for you. No need for thanks." Ainsley gets a bright-eyed, warm smile as he says, "Do you? I shall bring mine. We could bring a hound or two. Of course I'll tell Andy and Tellur. It's a pity my Knight is away. He'd like to hunt, I think." He follows Ainsley's gaze and, already being in a good mood, he doesn't question the Princess' presence, he just bows to her with flourish and says, "Princess Elionys, it's always such a pleasure."

It seems everyone and anyone is coming to the Island where the Raven's like to have their Quorkin' good times-and of course there is a lone weir wood tree-which is likely what has brought the newest arrival to the party going on here. The tall dark hair'd riverlander looks nothing like his siblings, that much is certain once he comes into better view, save that he wears the House colors of red and black. All would be pleased to know, that he does have a shirt on-a red tunic, that's left loose over leather breeches that tuck into tall riding boots. Unlike his younger (half) brother, this one has no finery or feathers adorning his shoulders. Rather, Jorah's content with a black quilted coat, and a leather surcoat worn over. He's even not armed-so it would stand to reason the eyepatched Rivers is likely seeking solace or prayer-or maybe a new raven.

"I know. Which is why I stopped." Riderch begins to Carolis after drawing in a breath, sounding a bit abashed. Mixed with a certain brand of pride in his sibling as the elder Blackwood gives a simple nod as Ainsley speaks of hunting, falconry, and these things that have been established as her domain. "But you're right. I should be a little more polite, I tend to waggle my tongue a bit as—."

Someone was not paying attention as his head whips about as the Stark Lord utters the name. He's still reclining back against the tree, but he catches himself sitting up a bit more firmly. Scoots back. Back against Weirwood. There. Oh, and his eyes are a little widened. "Eli— Princess?" Well, there's another etiquette slip up. "Hello!" He says, his mouth hanging in that same crooked smile. And it just takes a few seconds for him to glance over at Ainsley. "Oh, umm — I should introduce you, Aine." He begins. Of course, Jorah hasn't entered the poor man's field of vision yet, for it might just be too much to take at once.

"Your knight?" Ainsley asks of Carolis. "And here I had thought my brother was the only follower of the old gods with such a title." She gives a small nod of approval for the bringing of bows or falcons or hounds or all of the above. And then Riderch has that fumble, and Ainsley's gaze snaps contemplatively over to him, to the princess in question and then back to her brother. She offers the Targaryen a deep bow of her head (sitting as she is) for the introduction. Or… almost introduction. "How do you do, princess?" She laughs softly as Jorah appears. "Gracious. What a busy little island."

"I jest," Carolis tells Riderch with laughter in his voice. "It would be an honor to fight on your side any day, Ser, and you must come drink in the archer's camp any time." He then tells Ainsley, "Ser Malcolm Storm has sworn to protect me. He's traveled North, but he'll return soon enough." Once more he follows Ainsley's gaze and tilts his head curiously at Jorah with a complete lack of recognition. "So it is."

"Lord Carolis," Elionys greets him first, as he was the first one to greet her, a bright smile following the words, which is maintained as she looks around to the others. "And Ser Riderch, it's lovely to see you both." Today she's wearing a seafoam green gown, loose and sleeveless as so many of her gowns are, cinched at the waist with silver, with matching silver jewelry with glitering stones. "Hello," that greeting is given to Ainsley, gaze sweeping around to the others, and then back to the young woman, waiting for an introduction.

There's a lot going on here, but Carolis' statement gets a tiny but noted grin before Riderch's head whips about. "Princess — this is Lady Ainsley. My dear sister. And I said before, probably the best of our blood at the moment." Off-kilter grin to his sister? It has been delivered. He's recovered a bit although he's clearly a little awkward here. A touch of red in his cheeks but it passes quickly as he sees yet another — dear gods. "Not..Ho, Jorah!" He waves a hand in the air. "And that, my dear friends and beloved family, is Ser Jorah Rivers."

"Tits on trees.." Jorah mutters as he literally spills forth onto the scene, as a loose cobblestone on the pathway over catches the lip of his boot, and caused him to stumble. A look back and he is eyeing the pathway for a moment before hands smooth over clothes and he shakes it off with a jaunty step. There's a bit of rapid eye blinking that goes on as he catches the members of the ensemble here on Raven Island. Riderch he knows, as does he know Elionys. Carolis seems familiar, however there is one face he cannot place whether in knowing or not. And so she is given brazen look before he chooses to hail his brother with a raise of his hand and a sharp whistle.

"Ser' said once in better range. "I didn't know th' tree would be busy with all our prayers…" he tries as an awkward way of wading into the conversation. Jorah does however offer a bit of a nod to his introduction. "Well met, th' lot of you."

"Oh, your sworn sword is not a Northron?" Ainsley asks of Carolis. Perhaps she would rudely ask more, but there are suddenly quite a few faces to which she must pay attention. She nods again to the princess as her name is offered by Riderch, and then as her brother introduces him, regards Ser Jorah with open curiosity. Certainly, there is no lash lowering or cheek coloring for the look the Rivers gives her. There is only a sky blue regard given right back as well as the lift of a single eyebrow.

Carolis shakes his head and says, "No, we don't have a lot of knights in the North. He's a Stormlander, but where I go he follows." He smiles wryly as he adds, "I think he's become enamored of the North. I speak of it a lot and in glowing terms." He inclines his head politely to Jorah and says, "Well met, Ser. My name is Carolis Stark."

"Oh, you're Riderch's sister," Elionys' expression brightens as a handful of steps carry her nearer the group. "I've heard such nice things about you, it's so nice to meet you, Lady Ainsley." She pauses to glance back at Jorah, having to really look at him for a moment before she realizes who this is. This is what happens when you put on a shirt, Jorah, people don't recognize you. "Hello, Ser Jorah." With that polite greeting and smile given, she turns back to the group at large.

"Looks a bit like Father, doesn't he?" Riderch cautiously approaches Ainsley with this question momentarily. It's conversational and pleasant enough. But clearly — well, it looks like poor Riderch's in a bind here. There are a lot of awkward introductions. And with that, he suddenly rises to his feet. "Urm. I need to take a walk. For a moment." The dagger he stuffed in the dirt is left there, as if it was somehow keeping his place. Smiles are dispensed all around, to the two women and Lord and even the goofy Bastard he sometimes calls a half-brother. "If you will excuse me."

Next time, he will be sure to wear nipples attached to his shirt, or something of the like in order for people to identify him better. Jorah clears his throat once, before he is scratching the back of his neck, giving the princess the nod first. After all Dragons come before everyone, and so in order it goes to Carolis, then his (half) brother before it alights onto his (half) sister. And there the comment is enough to prompt eyebrow up, before he is squinting back at Ainsley. "Oh you" he adds. "you've grown."

Ainsley looks from Riderch to Jorah, squinting a little. "I suppose," she allows before nodding as Riderch stands and heads off. "Until later, brother." To Jorah she replies, "I have. And you have lost an eye." The princess gets a smile, somewhere between warm and polite. "Have you, princess. How kind. I am afraid my brother made no mention to me of his friendship with royalty, but how fortunate to make your acquaintance, now." To Carolis, Ainsley nods. "We have not many knights among the Blackwoods, either. Just the one, in point of fact."

Carolis watches Riderch go, and he seems curious. Not abashed or anything, just… so there is a thing and it just happened. "Your brother is a popular man," he tells Ainsley. "And the royal family is delightful." Because what else is he going to say in front of Elionys, that they're a pack of loons and he's just into living dangerously? When the lone knight is mentioned, Carolis gives Jorah a closer regard. "It's good to meet a brother of Riderch Blackwood," he says. "And his sister in the same day. You'll have us outnumbered before it's over."

Elionys' brows creep upward as Riderch stands to walk off, giving him a little wave before her attention goes back to his sister. "Oh, well. I'm sure he has a reason for that," she replies, watching Ainsley for one uncertain moment before she looks back to Carolis. "How have you been, Lord Carolis? I've not seen you since the party, I hope you've been well?" she prattles this off quickly, though it doesn't lack in warmth.

"Part of me ear is gone too." Jorah chimes in before a lock of peppered hair is moved in order to give his sister a proper viewing. And then he is looking back towards Elionys, before his hands self consciously move to cover over his chest-complete with his arms and all. There to cover over and hold. As for Ainsley's words there's a bit of a cough. "Two." though unless Jorah Rivers doesn't count-which is all together likely. But that is the only correction she gets.

Carolis is given a grin and a nod as he now eyes the man, as there's not much one can do with one ocular device. "Well met, Lord Stark." a grin given. "It's always good to meet kind, if not meeting kin."

And part of an ear, too. Ainsley's brows lift again, but all she asks is, "Bitten or cut?" Because this is a good conversation to begin in front of a princess. As Jorah adds himself to the list of Blackwood knights, Ainsley considers this a moment before dipping her chin into a small nod and amending, "Two."

"Cut. Axe broke my old helmet." hence how he didn't have one on, and thus lost the eye. It is rather a miracle that Jorah Rivers is even alive. Clearing his throat once more Jorah shifts in his stance as he looks back to Ainsley. "He mentioned you were around, but I didn't know. Figured you'd be gone before I saw ye." And with that he lets brows rise and lower, content to let the dragon and dire wolf talk amongst themselves.

Carolis inclines his head to Jorah. "Just so, Ser. Your brother has quickly become one of my favorite people here." None of this half-brother nonsense. "His stories are amazing, and he's beautifully mad in all the right ways." To Elionys, he says, "I've regretted seeing you at your house when I came to learn Cyvasse from Prince Aevander. I've been well enough. Our house has recently taken on a fierce, brutal killer of a servant, if you can call him that. I woke up to a dead rat in my boot, but he means well. How have you been?" And aside to Ainsley, "If you like animals, you must come to the manse. It's overflowing."

"I heard there were Cyvasse lessons," Elionys tells Carolis as she moves nearer the Stark where the reception seems slightly warmer. "And by that, I heard there was quite a lot of drinking, and probably very little Cyvasse." She grins at the Lord, daring a glance over at Ainsley, then to Jorah.

Ainsley gives another small nod for the fate for Jorah's eye (and a bit of his ear). "No, I shall be staying on for a while, so I expect we shall see much of each other, Ser Rivers." She looks to Carolis and considers. "I do like animals, my lord. Though preferably living ones that are not in my shoes." The comments about Riderch, however, earn Carolis a quick, warm smile.

A wide smile that would betray a raven's caw-were Jorah an animal. But he's not. He's fucking Jorah Rivers and so, the smile will suffice. "I would say it runs in the family-but you've not had my company." He adds with a nod to Carolis. "Otherwise you could agree. He's a good one, my brother." a smile there as he is accepted into the fold like that. "I am fond of him." Which is saying the very least.

AS FOR Ainsley, Jorah watches her for a moment, and he nods. "If you're staying with us in the Manse, then yes. You will see a lot of me." Like the Rivers' nipples.

Carolis's grin tries to look guilty and utterly fails. "There were a lot of healths to drink to see off a Prince of the realm," he says. "Then Tellur came to entertain us." Poor Tellur, who never asked for any of this. "And then we got on the topic of books and penning ballads. We might collaborate by raven, and finally getting in that game of Cyvasse gives me an excuse to visit King's Landing. I've never been." Alas for the dearth of Rivernipples at Weirwood Manse. "Perhaps you and your brothers would like to join us sometime and break bread," he says to Ainsley, with a nod Jorah's way. "As for the rat, I'm afraid our exterminator insists on doing things his way."

"That seems an awful long way to go for a Cyvasse game, you'll just have to talk him into staying," Elionys informs Carolis, that bright smile of earlier dimming somewhat now. "Or into coming back." Her gaze sweeps the small island again, perhaps in search of the wandering Blackwood, but comes to rest on the one closer at hand. "Do you plan on staying here in Oldtown, Lady Ainsley?"

"Yes, princess, at least for a time," Ainsley replies to Elionys's question. "I love my home dearly, but I should like to see a little more of the world before I must be wed. And as Oldtown already contained my brother…s" she darts a glance to Jorah, "it seemed the most fitting place for such explorations. And, of course, it has the Citadel." To Carolis she adds, "We should be delighted to break bread with you, my lord. I've read a great deal about the north, but I should love to hear of it from someone who has lived there."

Ainsley is given a glance before Jorah is coughing quietly. "If you all will excuse me-" comes his abrupt declaration now. "I need to pray." Which seems odd, save for the weir wood here. And so he is going to give himself a bit of space and a little distance away from the group, before taking a knee. He'll do his prayers quietly and out of the way.

"Believe me, Princess," Carolis says, "I would if I could. Cyvasse is such a fascinating game. I think the travel will do me good, though." He inclines his head to Jorah, almost but not quite a bow out of reference for the man's prayer. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Ser Jorah. I hope you will break bread with us soon." He lowers his voice so as not to intrude upon the man's contemplation as he says to Ainsley, "You're to wed soon?"

"In the tall grass upon the dune…" There's a sound that precedes him now, some snippet of a song that is started but never finished as the figure of Riderch Blackwood languidly strolls back from around one of the buildings and towards the courtyard. His arm swings behind his back as he walks, tossing his cloak over his shoulder and — oh. There they are. Still there, in fact. He doesn't say anything else immediately but wordlessy hauls himself back to the great Weirwood tree as the little gathering somehow has managed to continue, looking down at the dagger he left in the earth. It was a sign, after all, that he would return. "I'm sorry I've been amiss about a few things." Which is all he interjects. To anyone, really.
Jorah has disconnected.

"I understand, that's part of why I came here as well," Elionys admits to Ainsley with a slight smile. "To get away from King's Landing, and to see somewhere new, meet new people," she waves a hand. "All of that." The hand drops as she looks back to Carolis. "Ah, well, it was worth the try. If you want to practice before you go up there, I'll play you. I'm better at the game than Aevander is, anyway. If I teach you, you'll be able to beat him," she tells him, grin returning for a moment. Riderch's return is answered the same way his departure was, and that's with a little wave.

Ainsley gives a small nod to Jorah as he excuses himself and offers, "Gods be with you." She looks back to Carolis with a faint smile. "I am a Lady fully grown. Every female in such a situation is expected to wed, soon." Riderch gets a warm smile as he reappears, his spot beside her still vacant and waiting. "Welcome back," she says with a small laugh, though she glances again between her brother and the princess.

"I might try to appeal to him before he goes," Carolis says. Apparently he is unable to deny Targaryens. "But I would love to play against you, Princess. It will make the trip to King's Landing all the more worthwhile." He clasps his hands behind his back and rocks on his heels a bit. "Of course," he says to Ainsley. "I meant have you already arranged a date? It's none of my business, of course. I would merely want to wish you well." His attention shifts to Riderch, and he asks. "Have you?"

As he lumbers back into the little circle, there's for a second that honest-to-Old-Gods Riderch Blackwood smile, shot at Elionys. "I never did say it is nice to see you again here. But it is."

This isn't lingered upon for long as he spies Jorah. For all the sad-sack shit he's given his half-brother, it's clear that there's something in Riderch Blackwood that is clearly fond of Jorah Rivers. It's often buried in layers of bemusement. But it's there. His teeth flash momentarily as he eyes the man in prayer but does not disturb him, merely raising his arm in something of a salute. "Mm. Later maybe." He murmurs for no reason. He then stoops downwards and plucks the dagger up, wiping it off and stuffing it in its sheath. "Sorry. Sometimes I do that." He says, a little haltingly to his sister. Whever it is he went. As he starts gathering snippets of the conversation, his head lolls to and fro. As that inevitable talk of Ainsley's future comes up he does what he always does. Sighs. Rolls eyes. At least this time he deflects it with a certain levity. "I'm sure Lord Jon Frey is still asking about you." He says, rolling his eyes even harder at Aine. "if he can string three coherent words together that aren't a dullard's slur. Hurrrrrlll dooo youuu dooooooo laaaady." He makes this impression sound even more ridiculous than the source quotation, lightly.

"Date for what?" He asks Carolis, suddenly puzzled, caught in the middle of his egregious Frey-mocking a little by surprise.

"It's nice to see you as well, Ser Riderch," Elionys replies quietly, but with a small smile for the Raven Knight. That's done first, and then she looks back to Carolis. "I'm sure he would be glad of your company, my lord, he was just saying what a shame it was the two of you didn't meet earlier." Her gaze is on the Stark Lord, for some reason studying him intently for a good few beats before looking away again.

Nice to see you here again. Again. Ainsley regards her brother for a long, silent beat. The sort of small pause that suggests a conversation will be had at some other time and location. All she says, however, is "I shall learn to fly, brother, before I marry Jon Frey." Then she looks back to Carolis. "No, there is no date, my lord. And no one yet arranged for me, so I am hopeful I have some time to myself before such things are sorted."

Carolis tilts his head and regards the Princess in turn. Butter woudln't melt in his mouth just now. "It is a pity," he agrees. "It's such a rare thing to meet a like mind and to find so much in common almost immediately. I'm afraid my kinsmen aren't big readers." Riderch's mockery of Jon Frey gets a quiet laugh from him and he says, "I wouldn't whish a boring spouse on anyone. I would rather marry someone I fought with relentlessly than someone uninteresting."

"Hmm. There's plenty of boring out there for everyone." Carolis' comment is lazily followed up on by Riderch, who is if nothing else, adept at tying conversational threads together. And suddenly he gives Ainsley a blink. Oh, that's definitely a 'what?' blink but he just keeps going "Speaking of dull — please don't say that, Aine. I thought you could already fly." His sister receives that Blackwood grin now, in its full glory. "No, suffice to say that I think he would sooner fly." As Riderch good-naturedly talks about visiting violence upon fellow bannermen of his realm (which is just the greatest of ideas) he makes a little kicking pantomime with his boot. It's lighthearted but also a testament to some deep-seated thoughts about the whole idea in the first place. And then he just slumps back down against the Weirwood. Where he was.

"It is a pity," Elionys agrees in a mild sort of way, those oddly-hued purple eyes narrowing on the Stark Lord for just a beat, but whatever seriousness might have been brewing there is suddenly shoved aside by a vibrant smile. "I look forward to our games." She looks back to Riderch and his sister, missing the little exchange, though not the rest of the conversation. "Date for what?" This question is repeated as she looks back and forth between Carolis and Ainsley.

"You would prefer discord to mundanity?" Ainsley asks of Carolis with a small smile and a cant of her head. "I cannot decide if that is foolish or endearing." Ainsley looks over at Riderch and laughs for the first. "Well, being a raven, I suppose I can. But I still wouldn't marry a Frey." Her smiles grows a bit more as a fake Jon Frey gets fake kicked out of a fake window. To Elionys she explains, "I believe Lord Carolis mistakenly thought I was already betrothed."

Carolis tells Elionys, with a crooked smile, "I can hardly wait, Princess." He nods then to Ainsley's assessment. "I thought the Lady had a fiance and an imminent wedding. Thank the gods it hasn't come t pass that she'll end up with someone dull." He takes the speculative violence toward fail-beaus in stride. He has sisters. He knows the score. In regards to being either foolish or endearing, he says with a wry smile, "It can be both."

"I don't think a dullard would survive." Comes the elder Blackwood's assessment of the sister he's so obviously doting on. "And I mean, even before her foolish brother came in to set things right." There's a certain levity to the boast, though. "I suppose I don't want discord or dullards, just a working Lordship with a Lady who doesn't think I'm some —." Riderch opines, with a sigh, either at his statement or just some element of the topic in general.

He doesn't talk much about Cyvasse, though. It's probably a game that requires too much long-term focus for one such as him. "I wonder how our fathers and mothers said all these things, and their fathers and mothers before them. And on, and on. And on. Nothing changes much, I imagine?"

"Ah, no, but we women just know that marriage is but a matter of time," Elionys laments with a bit of a sigh, glancing over Carolis. The comment from Riderch earns an amused look, and then a little bob of her head. "You're probably right. In the end we none of us learn a thing, and repeat our mistakes over and over."

"Or simply hope for the same things over and over, mostly resulting in disappointment," Ainsley surmises, "though I shouldn't wish to wed a dullard, either." Smirking fondly at Riderch, she adds, "You may be right, brother. Things do happen." A hand brushes down her skirt. "Hunting accidents." WHAT A CATCH.

"My parents just seemed married since the beginning of time," Carolis says. "They were a good match, though." He shakes his head and rolls his shoulders. Ugh, the M word! It's still a bit of a tender point. Ainsley's comment about hunting accidents gets a grin from him. "Now see, that is one way to keep things interesting."

To this, both women get a bit of a sigh, each their own, in turn, from the reluctant Heir to Raventree Hall. "I've lived a number of years and managed to so hideously offend the families of two singularly awful matches arranged for me. One of them so badly that my father had to send gold to the Terricks just to keep them civil with us. That horsefaced —" Riderch suddenly responds in a bit of an outburst. But does not finish. At all. "I've got a spearpoint for 'inevitibility.' And I've got something for 'fate' and 'station' too." With this, he reaches downward and pulls out the same knife he had stuck in the ground before, and slams it in. It doesn't stick as well as it did, which takes a bit of the dramatic flair out of the gesture too.

There was a little flash in Riderch's eyes there, but it fades, somewhat, as he looks over at Ainsley's comment about hunting accidents. You know, in another person, this might strike him as less than droll. But hey, it's his sister talking. And thus he grins. It's a bit of an unsettling thing. Who knows? he might try to help. In all this, Carolis too, gets a smirk, at the very end of things.

"I shouldn't wish to wed a dullard," Elionys admits quietly, nose crinkling at the thought. "Or someone very boring, or… well, I'm sure there are a great many things I could list, and very few of them will matter when it comes down to whatever decision is made." Glum. This thought makes her glum, and for a moment it shows. Her gaze goes to the ground, that place where the dagger sticks out of the ground, brows lifting slightly. "I suppose I would have to learn how to go hunting before I could rely on a hunting accident. Maybe I could push someone into the dragon pit," she muses.

"Well, if you have a dragon pit, handy…" Ainsley approves, if a wee bit grudgingly. With a small laugh, she says to Carolis, "It is my intent to ever keep things interesting, one way or another." To her brother, she smiles again and reaches over to ruffle his (lack of) hair as he tips precariously close to sulking. "One day you will find a match that doesn't make you want to scale a tree and never come down, I am sure of it."

Carolis looks to Riderch pointedly. Dragon pits, man. Hunting accidents. Blandly, he says, "It is ever a shame that I can't possibly marry until my brother has produced an heir." That's his story and he's sticking with it. "And neither of us believe in foisting ourselves upon some veritable stranger sight unseen. At the very least, whatever poor woman ends up stuck with me will have had some say in it."

"The funny thing about that —" Riderch cuts in almost immediately after Carolis's explanation of his situation — and just holds up his hand, resigned, reaching for the dagger and cleaning it off, resheathing it. But he lets that lie, and his eyes drift in line with his vision as he looks over, from Princess to Sister, wryly. "I'm sure something will happen somwhere." He responds to Ainsley, salvaging his good humor which is seldom far away, and poking his sister in the forehead. He might be older but he seems to have no trouble behaving like a child. He coughs a bit as he says this little bit further. "I am an example of a man who should never have a dragon pit. Just to note." Laughter. On cue.

Elionys watches the exchange between siblings, something of that drawing a faint smile from her. "I don't have a dragon pit on hand, but I suppose if I were to have problems, all I would need do is take a trip to King's Landing," she remarks, them makes a vague sort of gesture that's meant to sum up the murderous conclusion to this little plan, without having to say it.

Riderch says he is sure something will happen somewhere. Ainsley wrinkles her nose as she gets poked, though she offers, "Something always does, brother." A look over to Carolis has her smiling and fluttering her lashes in mock sincerity. "A shame for whom, my lord?"

Carolis's expression has gone a bit dim and distant, and his focus half-taken by the Weirwood. When he's asked that question though, he smiles at Ainsley, all charm and good nature, and he says, "Why, for the women of Westeros, my Lady." He inclines his head, just so. "I have to admit, I would admire the cleverness of a woman with a backup plan to kill me should I prove too dull." Riderch just gets a solemn look. Yes, yes he agrees the man should not have a dragon pit.

"Lord Stark — you are a man after my own heart." Riderch suddenly lets loose with this observation. "I suppose that should not be all that surprising, after all." His face is the backdrop for the flicker of a smile. It's also one that may not be all-too-comforting. It is what it is, though. Also, he leaves his poor sister alone for the moment.

"See, I'd plant a dragon pit. A very large one — from Saltcliffe to Harlaw. Maybe open up a small —" He coughs now, and admits it. "It's a poor joke. Allright? I know."

Elionys' lips part to say something else, but whatever else that was, it never makes it past her lips before she's pressing them back together again. Instead she turns her gaze to the tree, head tilting back to follow the ancient branches where they stretch up toward the sky.

"Well, it is nice to be admired now and again," Ainsley replies with a bemused grin as she leans back against the weirwood. Looking over at Riderch, she laughs. "How about bees," she offers her brother. "Let's just begin with bees and work our way up as you improve."

Carolis looks at Riderch. Just Looks at him. And he shakes his head. "That's painful, Riderch," he says. "You're a bad man." And yet there's admiration in his voice. He tilts his head then as he looks to Elionys. "Is everything all right, Princess?"

"Bees." The words are offered in response to Ainsley almost immediately as he lolls his head at her, stretching his arms out and stifling a yawn. "I think I could be happy just having a lordship with a meadery." Riderch's observation is offered, wryly. No dragon pits. None. "I'll leave the immolation of Saltcliffe to someone with actual ambitions, I suppose" not even seeming that disappointed that he'll never have the power to dig a fiery trench through the Iron Islands. IS HE GETTING SOFT? Shortly thereafter, he just shoots Carolis a petulant glance in response and he too gives Elionys a very inquisitive look but doesn't say anything further.

Elionys' gaze lingers somewhere amid the pale branches of the tree as she listens. Or perhaps she doesn't, as the question from Carolis isn't answered immediately, but rather a several moments pass before she's blinking and looking around to the Stark. "Hmm? Oh, yes, yes. Fine," she answers, though the words are spoken quietly. "I should be going, I think, there's a thing I need see to," she explains in an awfully vague way.

"Perhaps that's for the best," Ainsley agrees to Riderch. She pushes to her feet, dusting her skirts free. "I should be off, as well." Things. They run rampant. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Lord Carolis and you, Princess Elionys." Looking over to Riderch, she asks, "Brother, will you see me home?"

Carolis nods a little to Elionys. "Be well, Princess." And he bows to Ainsley. "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Ainsley. Riderch, always a pleasure. I hope to see you soon. I was just telling your sister your family should come visit us."

"You know what they mean when they say 'for the best.'" Riderch's response is — well, a bit pensive-sounding. Still, Ainsley's suggestion doesn't exactly result in a lot of hesitation. He's up on his feet in no time and looks to Carolis. "Lord Carolis. Soon." He says, plainly. That's a little ominous. Unless he means hunting. Or visiting. Maybe he means all of the above. "Of course." Now, he spies Elionys as she dashes off. "Princess — E —" Well, this is a a bit trickier. "It was nice to see you again. As..Always." There's a little bit of a puzzled glance at the girl that lingers a little overlong to be 'normal', but that is, as they say, what it is.

To Ainsley, finally. "It's a bit of a walk. Might as well start now." She does receive a slight smile. And then there is little tarrying for them, as the long march home begins.

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