(121-06-22) A Lingering Presence
A Lingering Presence
Summary: Arros and Mariya comfort each other in the wake of Ashara's death.
Date: 06/22/2014
Related: None?

It is before daybreak when Arros slumps into the White Stone Manse. The sky is a lightening blue, and in the Eastern horizon pinks and oranges erupt to herald the rise of the Sun. The bastard Knight doesn't bother to remove his blood and dirt-stained armor. Instead, he walks up the stairs to the room he practically shared with Ashara and slumps into the room. The door is left half-opened. He has no energy to bother closing it. He stares down at the bed mutely for a moment, and reaches a hand down to run his hand over the sheets. He sinks heavily onto the bed, and puts his face in his hands.

Even before the news, Mariya had been keeping mostly to her rooms while in the manse. After, it only cemented her plan to keep to herself. However, for one reason or another, she finds herself walking the hallway and passing the room Ashara once occupied. Seeing the door ajar causes the princess to pause and edge closer. It is when she sees Arros in the room that she can't help but move forward. The door squeaks softly as she pushes it further open. She does not enter yet, that seems too large of an intrusion. "Ser Arros…" she says softly, unsure of how even to end that sentence.

"Princess Mariya." Arros says in a thick voice. He wipes at his face with the heel of his hands before standing up from the bed, his armor causing a slight wobble as he stands. He walks towards the open door, his armor jiggling slightly. As he approaches, the coppery scent of blood mixed with dirt and perspiration is distinct. He struggles for words himself before finally settling on, "I'm sorry for the loss of your cousin."

The look that Mariya gives Arros is pure sadness. Despair for the loss of Ashara, for Arros' loss, for her own. She does not care about the blood or the sweat or even the armor. With a few quick steps, she crosses the distance between them and attempts to put her arms around the knight. "Oh Arros, I am so sorry." They tumble out of her mouth in a murmur, the words clearly laced with pain.

Arros allows the embrace, and leans down to rest his forehead on Mariya's shoulder. "…I failed her. I didn't ride fast enough. I must not have searched hard enough. …She was right there, and if I'd only looked harder maybe I would have found her before…" His voice breaks then, and he lets out a broken sound.

Mariya holds on to Arros tightly - as best she can with his armor still on. It is quite possible he does not even feel the attempt at a reassuring squeeze. "You didn't fail her." Her own words are tight as she tries to hold back tears. "There was nothing…" she takes a deep breath, the words catching in her throat. "…nothing we could have done. We couldn't have known." A hand reaches up to rest at the back of his head, smoothing his hair.

"I did." Arros asserts heavily. He stands up straight, and turns to pace the room. "This morning I thought I ought to have gone out with her, but she said it was fine. Everything would be fine…" He lifts his hand to his face, and squeezes his hands into his brow ridge. Anything to distract from his pain. "He's dead. The fucking Vaith who did it. …Can you believe it? Murdered for the death of her first husband."

As Arros pulls away Mariya does not make any attempt to keep him in the embrace. Instead, she remains where she is and watches him pace. "You didn't know that would happen," she repeats as firmly as she can. She glances downward, clutching her hands together in front of her. "I…I heard. Or, assumed. Daevon told me he'd been…" Her eyes squeeze shut. "No, I can't believe it."

"I need out of this…" Arros murmurs, mostly to himself. "I can't breathe…." He stops to begin unbuckling his armor. It's awkward without aid, and he's exhausted. His spaulders are thrown to the floor, and when Mariya's eyes squeeze shut he stops to look up at her. "I won't lie to you, Princess. But, if you don't want to know I'll say nothing."

Luckily, Arros is not without aid. Once the spaulders are tossed on the floor, Mariya opens her eyes and automatically goes to help him out of his armor. Much like Arros, the movement helps her keep her tears and her pain in check. "Let me help." She is not practiced at it and it is awkward going, but she's a smart woman and can understand how to unbuckle buckles and untie knots. "No, there is no need to lie. I hope it was a painful for him." Her voice is hard and angry.

"He suffered for what he did." Arros says in a growl, "He suffered, and then I buried him in a shallow grave. He'll rot there without a proper burial. I wanted to leave him hanging in a tree like…." He sucks in a wet breath, "But Prince Alaryn said it would make us look like barbarians to the Northroners." With Mariya's help, he is awkwardly stripped down to his quilted under-tunic, and leggings. He leaves the armor on the floor, and walks towards the desk to pour himself a rather large glass of wine.

There's one hard nod at that. Mariya may wish the man every single ill, but she is also not quite at the point where she wishes to hear details. To know he suffered is enough for her. "I guess it might." For awhile, she looks at the strewn about armor, stuck between wishing to gather it up and not knowing what to do with it. The indecision remains for now and she stays where she is. "He deserved no better." Instead, the motion started by attempting to find a place for Arros' armor continues and she finally takes in the rest of Ashara's room with more than the tunnel vision from before. The room Ashara would never again inhabit. Her expression finally crumples and she puts her face in her hands, shoulders silently shaking.

Arros swallows down half the strong wine in three gulps. Still holding the goblet in hand, he goes to Mariya and wraps an arm around her. Without the dirty armor the smell of blood is less intense, and his arms feel more human than cold and metallic. He pushes the half-drunk goblet into her hand before pulling her close to him. That Mariya is crying distracts him briefly from his own grief, and he tries rocking her in his arms soothingly.

Without even really noticing what she is taking, Mariya's hands wrap around the goblet before she is wrapped in Arros' embrace. The princess buries her face into his quilted under tunic, not caring that her tears will wet it. The goblet is awkwardly pressed between them, her elbows tucked into her body. "Why…" she whispers in between her tears, "Why do the Gods punish us so?"

"Because freewill is a double-edged sword." Arros says in a sad voice. "It makes us capable of love, but also of things neither of us want to think of right now." He continues to gently rock Mariya back and forth. "Drink the wine." He suggests. "It won't help much, but it will help a little."

As the worst of her tears are sobbed out while Arros soothingly rocks her, Mariya says nothing else. Finally, she pulls back slightly. The prompting egging her on to take a small sip of the strongwine. Then, a larger one. She certainly will not finish the glass in three tries, but it is a much larger drink than she normally ever would. "It seems impossible to bear." While still crying, she is no longer full on weeping. She holds the goblet out with one hand, not about to hog all the wine for herself, and wipes at her cheeks with the other. At a loss for anything else to say, she looks down downward. "Will you…will you stay in Oldtown?"

"I don't know." Arros says frankly. He takes the goblet from her, and has another good swallow of it. His nose wrinkles at the strong alcoholic taste, but he has another swallow regardless. He isn't drinking it for the taste. "I left Hellholt because I tired of the constant scheming. Ashara understood. I feel I ought to stay because she would want me to stay to protect you and your sister, but…" His face breaks, and his voice cracks. A tear slips down his grimy face, "…It still smells like her in here. I keep hoping that this is a nightmare, and I'll wake next to her."

Finally moving in to action, Mariya moves to the desk and pours herself a goblet, then takes the pitcher to refill Arros' cup. "If you cannot stay here, we will understand," she says softly, taking a deep breath to steady herself. She looks around the room again with sad, eyes, vision blurry with tears, but she does not break down in to weeping again. With her hands full of pitcher and goblet, she cannot put a comforting hand on Arros' arm like she wishes. Instead, she stands close. "Perhaps we should move, then. I will stay with you."

Arros streaks tears and dirt across his face with his hand. "I could leave…" He moves to slump down on the bed, "We all could leave, and then all of her things would be packed up or sold and it would be as if all physical proof of her presence would be gone. I'm torn." His head slumps, "…I don't want to see her things gone, but I know I must. We all must."

Mariya moves to the bed and sets the pitcher down on the floor by the wall and sits on the bed next to Arros. "I meant the room," she says softly - the most amount of humor she can muster, which is not very much. But, she looks about when he mentions her things. With an arm free, she moves to wrap it about the knight. It is her turn again to be soothing. "We could. Or we could stay. If you wish it, you will always be welcome here with us. But, it is not something that must be decided right now."

"I want to go with her to Sunspear." Arros says dully. "The trip there and back will take weeks. It will give me time to clear my head and decide what needs to be done." He leans over to put an arm around Mariya in turn. "I may go see my mother in Hellholt. She is with child again, and I would like to see my brother's and stepfather." He lets out a heavy sigh, "When will this end?"

"Then you will." Mariya made sure he would be able to accompany Osric to Starfall, she will make sure he will be with Ashara on her way to Sunspear no matter what. "Take the time you need." However long that may be. "Just do not disappear on us, no matter where you decide to go." She rests her cheek against Arros' shoulder, the base of her wine goblet on her knee. His question is not immediately answered, unable to speak for a time. She swallows and shakes her head against him. "I wish I knew."

"I knew I could never marry her, but we still were planning a life together." Arros says in an almost hoarse voice, "I loved her since I was a lad, and she lady Hellholt. The day she was brought there…ah." He smiles sadly, "She was the most beautiful woman I had seen. Lit up any room she walked into." He lets out a bitter little laugh, "I thought I would die before her."

"You don't need to be married to build a life together." Mariya holds him tighter. "She was smart and beautiful. I always looked up to her. When I was in Sunspear, when I was here. It made no difference." She raises her head to take another drink of her strongwine, no longer making a face at the taste. "She was so strong." With a deep breath, she adds, "She would never have wanted that. For you to die before her."

Arros reaches down to take Mariya's hand, and squeezes it lightly. "Promise me you'll be careful." With his other hand he reaches over to tilt her chin up, and meets his eyes with her's, "Promise me you'll be cautious, and keep yourself safe. You are the only one left to hold things together here. People look up to you now, Princess. They care for you. You must be safe."

When Arros takes her hand, Mariya squeezes it back. She does not look away when he tilts her chin up. A tear falls down her cheek, but then she takes a quick breath and gives a slight nod. "Ellia and Alaryn are here. They are much better at holding things together than I am, but I promise. I will be careful." Keeping a hold of his hand, she tightens her grip and attempts to keep his gaze. "And you, you must promise me, too. You will keep yourself safe. It was not your fault and she would never wish you to suffer."

Arros wipes away Mariya's tear with his thumb, and leans forward to press a kiss to her forehead. "Prince Alaryn is a formidable warrior. If anyone can keep you safe, it's him." He smiles lightly, but it's strained with the sadness that rests behind his indigo colored eyes. "I promise. To do any less would be a disservice to her." That said, he pulls away from Mariya, and stands up from the bed. "I'm going to try to sleep."

Mariya gives one more squeeze of his hand and then stands as well. Though she will never finish the strongwine in her goblet, she takes one more sip and takes the rest of it with her. "Just…let me know if you need anything." She cannot tell him to sleep well, for she knows he will not. Nor will she. It is not the night for that. "Night, Ser Arros."

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