(121-07-23) Got wood?
Got wood?
Summary: In which Delwyn probes Alaeyna's interest in his wood.
Date: 23 July 2014
Related: n/a

White Stone Manse
This grand manse faces the prestigious Starry Street. The first story is protected by narrow high windows that stop people from seeing inside, but the big windows on the back wall and the four upper stories make the manse bright and airy over all.

The first floor's main hall is brightly lit with lamps to make up for the shortcomings of the street-facing windows. The white walls and polished white marble floors add to the effect, making it seem airy and bright. There's a grand dining room separated from the entry hall by broad doorway. The house is richly decorated and well-appointed, with luxurious furnishings.

Like almost all of the houses in Oldtown, it shares two walls with its neighbors on either side, but the servants quarters, kitchens, and servant's stairs buffer the house proper from any noise that could possibly leak through the thick stone walls. The grand staircase that allows residents and their guests access to the upper stories is of white marble veined with a pleasing yellow-tinged pink.

There's a pleasant walled garden in the back, viewed from the windows in the back wall and accessed through a glass-paneled door.

A polite inquiry was sent in painfully, carefully neat script: Lord Delwyn Tarth requests audience with Prince Alaryn Martell or Lady Alaeyna Fowler at the earliest convenience. When the earliest convenience comes, Lord Tarth arrives on time, and he has brought a gift of fine silks, blazing red and orange as well as deep, startlingly sapphire blue with silvery brocade. These he leaves with a servant, if such a thing can be found willing to take them. He then arrives at the appointed place, hands clasped behind his back, and he moves with carefully measured poise, mindful of each step. Though he looks around with interest, even that is reined in.

Indeed, the residence of House Martell at Oldtown is well attended by servants, and a pair are on hand to both receive the offerings made by Lord Delwyn and to usher him into the main hall of the manse, where he is left to his own devices with free reign to amuse himself until his host arrives. If he was hoping for the prince, it may be that he is disappointed to be met by the lady, but it is Alaeyna who comes in to greet Delwyn once informed of his arrival. Garbed in lush, plum colored silks, her dark mane of hair piled loose atop her head and fastened with pins as gold as the half dozen bracelets she wears on either wrist, the Lady Fowler sweeps in with a certain sort of swagger, the fluid grace of a woman who knows how to make an entrance. She catches Delwyn in his gazing around, no doubt at any number of the frescos or tapestries that adorn the hall, and has already given him thorough study by the time she's crossed the floor to meet him. "Welcome, Lord Delwyn," she says, in a rich Dornish lilt. "I am Alaeyna Fowler. Prince Alaryn sends his regrets that he was not able to attend you today."

If the young Lord is disappointed, it doesn't show on him, He turns from a fresco at the sound of footfalls, and he gazes upon Alaeyna for a moment, only a few seconds, but the delay is noticeable before he bows low and says, "Lady Fowler, it is an honor to meet you. I am sure Prince Alaryn has many things to attend to, as do you, and I'm so grateful that you would receive me." He doesn't sound like a Stormlander. Oh, there is some of the accent in there, the way the vowels come out, but over all, the youth sounds like a Riverlander, despite how he tries not to. When he rights himself from the bow, and offers her a small, almost apologetic smile. "I will try not to take up too much of your time."

The Lady Fowler has a menacing looking slash across her breastbone, a half-healed wound that mars her otherwise smooth, bronzed flesh, along with a handful of bruises on her throat, trophies of recent combat. They lend her an altogether impressive look, marking her as the sort of woman who handles all matter of her own affairs, even if at the end of a knife. His low bow prompts her to arch her brow, and if her stare is a little wary, well, who could blame her? "It is my pleasure," she says politely, if a little unfeelingly, like she's yet to properly decide if it is, indeed, a pleasure. "Let us take wine. I find it an aid to conducting all manner of business." A tray with a decanter and pair of fine goblets is already waiting on a little table near the tall glass windows that face the courtyard garden, and a set of chairs to boot. Alaeyna leads Delwyn to it, and is gracious enough to pour the wine, even if she offers no toast before drinking of it herself. Choosing one of the seats, the one with the better view of the grounds, she turns to Delwyn and asks, "And so?"

Delwyn's brow knits when he takes in the scars, and his lips purse in some concern. He's got a guileless face and hands calloused from a lifetime of working with them. No scars to speak of, but his beautiful doublet and the long, voluminous sleeves of the shirt beneath cover just about everything but his hands and face. A pin gleams upon his breast: a sunburst of burnished gold. "Of course," he says, and he follows after the Dornishwoman. He chooses a seat where he can speak with the Lady without crowding her, and he takes the wine, not thinking to toast at all when he takes a deliberately polite sip. He savors it, too, eyes closing, before he swallows and says, "I'll get to the point," he says. "There is tension between our people, and I am aware that Tarth's military aggression at sea has been… enthusiastic. I wish to unseat my Uncle. I shall need whatever support I can get, and what I can offer Dorne is peaceful trade.

At the word enthusiastic, Alaeyna merely casts her gaze sidelong, fixing Delwyn with a pointed look that's much more keen than the idle stare with which she'd been looking out on the garden. But she says nothing, at least not until the last, when she remarks, "Dorne remembers. Its people have memories that go back generations, tales passed down at the knee from father to daughter, from mother to son. Promises of peace and of trade have been made to us by many a northerner, in many a hall like this very one. What distinguishes you from those that have come before you, Lord Delwyn?"

"Surely Dorne remembers, then, that Lord Aelster Tarth, who ruled some twenty years ago, give or take, had a far gentler hand in these matters. I am his son." Those sweet boyish features harden, his jaw tense as he says, "His brother, who holds the island now, is a kinslayer responsible for the deaths my parents, and I believe he's responsible for the death of my brother, Ser Rissert Tarth." Who did die not long ago, for those who pay attention to such things. He had an unfortunate fall off a parapet to the rocky shore far below. Delwyn lowers his gaze, studying the contents of his wine glass without really looking at them. That hard expression melts away into sorrow. "I was raised in a village in the Riverlands by my mother's lady in waiting. I've nothing against the Dornish. What harm have they done to a weaver from the backwoods of a region so far away? I realize some of my people won't like it, but I think they could get used to peace."

It's enough to at least soften some of sharpness in her stare, though the Lady Fowler is rather singular in her attentions, her gaze trained on Lord Delwyn as he speaks. "What is it you propose?" she inquires. It's something of a marginal victory for the young lord, interest he wasn't necessarily guaranteed on entering their meeting, though she now seems keen enough to have him go on. She slakes her thirst on strongwine, content to let him make his pitch before showing any cards of her own.

Delwyn lifts his gaze to her, and even though the smile he offers her is small, it's bright in his eyes. The man has no stoicism to him, no game face. There is pleasure clearly written upon his countenance, and relief. "Tarth has lumber," he says. "Good, sturdy raw lumber ready for a craftsman's hands. We would be open to terms of trade. Dorne has many things Tarth does not, and though one might find things like blood oranges and Dornish wine in King's Landing, Tarth doesn't see many of these luxuries."

In the midst of their conversation, Alaeyna beckons forward a servant, a mere glance from the Lady Fowler enough to prompt him to come hither and see to her whim. She tilts her head, issuing some low instruction, and he departs swiftly to see it fulfilled. Moments later, he returns with a tray, bearing a tall, slender bottle and two tiny, delicate, fluted glasses, which are each filled with the sparkling stuff the bottle contains. Alaeyna lays aside her wine in favor of taking the two glasses from the tray, offering one to Delwyn once he has similarly discarded the strong Dornish red they'd been partaking of. "I must insist you try this," she says, a sparkle to her voice that bespeaks no small amount of pride. "It is bottled at Skyreach, distilled from a rare snowflower cultivated from our mountain peaks." The liqueur is fiery going down, but it blossoms upon the tongue, sweet once the burning subsides. She downs hers in one fluent toss.

Delwyn does work through the wine fairly quickly. Slowly, small sips give way to larger ones, though he does not chug. No, he's been disabused of the chugging. His smile is fleeting but warm when the glass is offered. "Of course, my lady," he says, and he takes the glass. If there is one thing the weaver from the Riverlands knows, it's how to pound down hart liqueur. He tosses it back, swallows, and again he closes his eyes as he savors. Mmm, the burn. His lips twitch at a grin, enough to summon a dimple, and he exhales slowly as he opens his eyes and looks to the Lady. "That is exquisite," he tells her. "Truly, my lady, I've had nothing like it."

When her guest puts down the first glass like it was nothing, and seems to enjoy it besides, Alaeyna nods at the servant, who pours them seconds. This time she lifts her glass to Delwyn, and then summarily throws back her head a second time, all the fire of the clear liqueur burning in her stare when it meets his thereafter. She puts her glass back on the tray, and after the servant stoppers the bottle, she takes it and makes ceremonious offer of it to the would-be Lord of Tarth. "Please accept this as a token of what offerings Skyreach has to make to its friends."

Delwyn lifts his glass in turn with an amiable tilt of his head, much more the lowly weaver in that one gesture than the noble lord. Ah, the good old days of horrid taverns and rotgut. He tosses back the second glass, and after he swallows, a burst of laughter escapes him. "This is amazing," he says. He puts the glass back on the tray with a murmured, "Thank you," to the servant. He still thinks they're people. When the bottle is offered, his eyes widen with delight, and he takes it nigh reverently. "Thank you, my lady. I shall have to remind myself to share it so that its appeal might spread." He studies the bottle, turning it over in his hands to examine whatever label it might have. "Nothing would please me more than to have friends in Skyreach." He looks to her then with those big blue eyes, so earnest. "Lady Alaeyna, if we can make this work, and I am successful in my efforts, I truly believe it will benefit both our peoples. I have no love of warfare."

The servant's work done, Alaeyna nods to him, at once expressing her thanks and dismissing him. When it is just the pair of them again, she returns her attention to Delwyn, won over to his cause a sliver further as a result of his appreciation for what might arguably be Skyreach's pride and joy. The bottle bears only an imprint of the crest of House Fowler and no name, but doubtless the denizens of Skyreach have at least half a dozen for the potent stuff. Even a small dose is enough to rouse the blood, and perhaps that works in Delwyn's favor, for his host warms to him a little easier now. In return of his thanks, she nods her head, graciously, and admits, "Skyreach's lady never tires of making new friends. But warfare cares little for the love or scorn of men. It carries on besides. Still, if it might be swayed away from Dorne…"

<FS3> Delwyn rolls Heraldry: Success.

"Let me soar," Delwyn murmurs as he studies the crest. He has warmed up more as well, no longer ramrod stiff, and his easier manner is a few notches less lordly. Those dimpled smiles come easier, too. Weaponized sweetness. "I never tire of new friends either. The gods know I could use them." He sighs, then, and the smile fades. Even then, he's an expressive youth. Warfare makes him sad. "Whatever we can do to stave it off," he says. "It is like the parable of the fish."

Fish? What fish? He may be a pretty young boy, but Alaeyna has limited use for boys, and rather more use for men. Her smile wavers, and she grudgingly asks, "The fish?" Remembering her half-finished cup of wine, she takes it back in hand, and has a hearty drink of it.

Delwyn waves a hand idly and says, "There was a flash flood after a heavy rain, and when it was over the waters retreated so quickly that it left dozens of fish flopping around on the shore. A fisherman inspecting the damage done to his boat saw them and walked along picking up the ones he could and tossed them back into the now placid waters. Another fisherman came walking up the shore and said, "Why do you bother? You'll never save them all. It doesn't matter." The first fisherman picks up another fish, who is flapping around in his hands and struggling to breathe. He tosses it in the water, and as it swims away, he says, "It matters to the fish." Telling the story relaxes him further still, and he's animated as he tells it, and far more confident. The weaver may well be the man, and the nobleman the boy. Or the wine and liqueur is affecting him.

Alaeyna merely stares at Delwyn, as if he had commenced speaking in tongues, and pours herself a fresh cup of wine in the midst of his fish parable, drinking a goodly amount of it before he's even done. "Well, if it were me, I'd have a grand feast with so many fish to fry," she remarks airily, though it's doubtful his meaning is altogether lost on her, for she's thereafter given quiet pause to contemplate what she will say of his suggestion of alliance. "I think you should pay us another visit here, perhaps on an afternoon when my prince is able to meet with you, and let us see what is to be made of friendship."

"I admit, I thought about that, too," Delwyn says. "But I think the fisherman took the long view and thought the fish that could be saved will breed more fish, and the ones that could not would be delicious." He nods to himself. Yes, this is his version and he's sticking to it. He inclines his head to the lady and says, "I look forward to it. My only wish today was for your consideration, and you've given me so much more." He gestures with the bottle, which he will have a difficult time sharing. Politics is hard. "I hope that the gifts I brought will be your liking and his." He rises, though tentatively. Discussing another visit is shorthand for leave now, right? He's been educated and everything.

At that, at least, Alaeyna parts with a smile, and it's hard won at that, for all her intense staring and wary airs. "Delicious, indeed," she says, similarly rising to her feet when her guest does. "I do enjoy gifts," she admits, her curiosity piqued. "I shall speak with Prince Alaryn, and write to you anon." She offers Delwyn a kiss to either of his cheeks, but this seems to be more a manner of habit than a particular declaration of favor. "Enjoy it well," she says of the liquid fire.

Delwyn tilts his cheeks to the kisses, first one and then the other, and he offers her his hand. "I look forward to it." There's only a small twinge of uncertainty at the mention of writing but it's quickly dismissed. "I shall enjoy it immensely. It was such a pleasure to meet you, Lady Alaeyna." His gaze lingers again, and his brows quirk a little. The man has no guile, and she is, after all, a beautiful woman.

"May you relive the pleasure with every drop you drink," she says, amiably enough, before presuming to show her guest back across the hall, toward the entrance (in his case, exit) corridor. Alaeyna is as accustomed to lingering gazes as she is breathing, and takes care to offer him a smile before at last they part, that he might take it with him as he goes.

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