(122-02-14) Hard Women
Hard Women
Summary: Lady Hellan, drinking, and Kelinyx, drinking, happen to meet.
Date: 14/02/2015
Related: None

Quill and Tankard Hightower And Citadel
Sat Feb 14, 122 ((Sat Feb 14 13:39:16 2015))
It is a summer day. The weather is warm and overcast.

This is the common room of the Quill and Tankard, that famous Oldtown Inn that has never closed in five hundred years. The building is a noble old half-timber structure with plastered stone between the enormous old black beams. It sits on a small rock of an island at the edge of the Honeywine River, and is accessed by a little footbridge, or by water-taxi.

Rivermen and seamen, smiths and singers, priests and princes, Lords and sellswords, travelers both noble and small, and the novices and acolytes of the Citadel - all come for a taste of the fearsomely strong apple cider that makes this inn so beloved by Oldtown's people. There is a pleasant buzz of chatter, cups and tankards being filled and refilled, and general laughter.

The fire in the hearth allows for a merry glow and a comfortable warmth from Oldtown's breezy, misty cobblestone streets. Benches and tables offer places to sit, and there is a deliciously toothsome smell in the air of food from the back.

She's giggling at the dirty songs, that slim girl squatted on a wrong-way-facing chair, arms propped over its back. Her right hand is clapping at her thigh, the left wrapped around a shallow wooden cup full of something sharply alcoholic and rather clear. Guard your valuables and shoelaces, the Stranger's Imp is tipsy.

While the Quill and Tankard is a constant melting pot of individuals from all walks of Oldtown and beyond, it's nevertheless at least a noteworthy event when a noble lady happens to grace — or alarm — the patrons with her presence outside of an event and unaccompanied. Unaccompanied by anyone, that is, except for a broad-faced, dark-bearded, aging man serving reluctantly as a guard, staying a safe distance away from the woman's side. It's no frilly lady who's sat down in a corner of the Quill; she's suits the strong timbers and earthiness of the inn. Stark colours wrap her shoulders in the form of fur and heavy grey material unsuited to the warm days of the Reach, circling her dark hair like vicious regal collar. Lady Hellan has one foot, leather-clad, on the stool across from her, her knee crooked under her plain dress. She has not been here long at all, having slipped in during a particularly racuous song — yet she looks like she's been here hours and has made it her own. The cup in her hand is fresh with wine, but it hasn't been her first today by far.

She's in the middle of verbally assaulting her guard in her deep voice. " — realize I have no regard for your insipid opinion — "

"And that's why all the sailors sayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy," Kelinyx sings along - the little bar fly - "He had to turn her the other way!" The room erupts in cheers and laughter and loud conversations soon follow. Where she was singing and bopping along moments ago, it seems Keli has just…disappeared? Her cup is there, on its side, empty, and something is slithering around in the shadows, but who could notice in such a noisy time and busy place? Right?

Hellan's awareness of the merriment going on around her does not translate into, in fact, merriment; she seems distantly annoyed by the singing, only raising her voice to get across to the loyal Stark man. Raised, her voice rather seems lowered, deeper, yet travels farther and more threateningly. She leans toward him to better punctuate herself, pointing firmly around her cup. "Besides which, it's not your place to question." He takes it stoically.

"Yeah, that's it!" Keli is perched behind two barrels, peering out from the gap. Her stealth was perfect, her hiding spot cleverly well-hidden, but the fact that she's whispering editorial enjoyment of the guard's scolding gives her away, sadly, and the giddy giggle doesn't help. "You don't want to get her mad, I heard she makes bears cry!" On the one hand, she's whispering, on the other, she's about two feet from Hellan on the other side of those barrels, peering up with bright if slightly bloodshot eyes.

Hellan's head tilts slowly in preparation to get a better look at the source of that whispering and giggling, icy — and, it should be noted, also slightly bloodshot — eyes narrowing like a predator on the trail.

"Aye," the guard, feeling bitter, goes against whatever scrap of good judgment he has left by beginning to agree with the commentary. Perhaps he's under the impression Hellan won't remember later, anyway. Even if that proves to be true, it's a risky endeavour in the here and now. "Usually her own— "

The woman hunches forward, the fur of her cape collar raising about her shoulders, bristling. She slams the cup onto the table, a more measured move than it first appeared, for the bottom of it makes an ominous thud rather than a haphazard crack. "I can send you to the Wall," she threatens, low. "Your life would be better spent there." Only then does she truly try to get a look at the barrels. "Child," she beckons — or orders — the barrels.

Oh it's so delightful! She must think herself quick and spy to believe she could be this close. A curious fox might come to mind, given the way her eyes dart and her body reflects a dancer's balance and tension, even sloppy - stories are told in silence by the child's mere presence and conduct. Soon she stands, the barrels standing like a shield between the better part of her body and the woman. "At your service, miss!" she says in a sloppy and easy Oldtown smallfolk way, weight shifting between the balls of her feet. "Lady Stark," she notes adding a dip of the head. "Is Malcolm well?" she adds, clarifying quickly she is connected and hopefully saving her from being skinned alive where she stands.

Hellan's stare is cutting when it comes to observing the girl's movement and mannerisms, but she squints as though there's a layer of fog in front of her, delaying her identification of Kelinyx. "You'd have to ask Malcolm how he is," she replies rather than speaking for the man, uninterested in the connection, as it turns out. "I know you." Almost. She narrows her eyes further, wrinkling the spot between each bold brow. "What's your name?"

"Kelinyx. He is training me to use swords, my Lady!" she cheerfully answers. Possibly, too, Hellan has seen her doing courier work on Prince Daevon Targaryen's behalf, a quick and efficient young messenger. She is grinning ear to ear, probably full of questions or silliness, but seems unfazed by the harsh gaze, as though she knows she will eventually receive a warm reception.

Although, by all accounts, the Battle-Axe of Bear Island is on the side of young women taking up arms, Kelinyx's declaration manages not to receive accolade but a groaning sigh instead. Straightening her neck, she lifts her chin up until her head lolls back and her eyes point at the rafters. Seeming so apathetic — at best, distracted — it comes as a surprise even to her when she lets her head fall back down and her gaze readjust on the girl anew. Dim curiousity cuts through the clouds. "Have I seen you with Eonn?"

Kelinyx bites her lip a bit, glancing to both sides. Her head bobs a few times. "As good as me da," she says, too lazy or drunk to say 'father.' She leans forward, hands on the nearer edges of the barrels, and something begins to brighten her features. "Sorry to not have interru…intri…said hello proper sooner."

It's Kelinyx's connection to Eonn that turns Hellan's expression. It can't be said to be warm, but it is, at least, less cold, and more open to not entirely dismissing this small drunken person outright. She examines Kelinyx with a critical, but invested, interest, takes a drink, and sighs. Her square jaw shifts side to side. "Sit down, then," she says, as if she's been bothered into it. "Even a drunken child is better company," she adds … skeptically, but it's a fine opportunity to cast a pointed eye to her right where her guard sits.

For a sly moment Keli flashes the guard an apologetic grin - she might later ensure he gets enough coin for a drink on her when shift is over…if she doesn't drink too much and pass out somewhere - but she then happily takes the seat, grinning up so big one of her missing-and-regrowing bicuspids can be seen to make a meager dark gap in her smile. "I meant the thing I said in a good way, t'be clear. But it's a lot of work bein' known as a hard woman. So many people think you can be a, uh, you know," she luridly smirks, "A notch on the belt in one kinda swordfight or another."

Hellan pinches her brows in and up incredulously at Kelinyx; her words and the manner of them. "You? Do you think yourself a hard woman, yet?" She seems amused by this, fleetingly cracking a toothy smile. "Well, any who thinks that of 'hard women' ought to be impaled on their own sword of one kind or another."

The girl cackles with delight. "I am not hard. I am slippy. Maybe one day I live long enough to get all leathery like a beggar's heels." She wiggles where seated, asking, "Would you like me to buy us some food?" That's three convetions at least, that she's uprooted by merely following her nature thus far in one conversation. What is she like sober? Or cranky?

Hellan huffs once through her nose, her opinion ambiguous beyond the fact that she has an opinion. She reaches into her cape, by her collar; a pocket must be sewn unobtrusively within, for she produces some coins and plants them on the table in front of Kelinyx. "Buy yourself something," she says, charity potentially overshadowed by her dismissive tone. "I don't hunger." For anything but wine. "And bring me another drink."

"Done." She's off under the table and out between legs of a stranger who's wide stance makes other passage more troublesome, so fof she goes for an order and returns with her big mug full of wine and juice. The drinks girl she likes is here and for once, Keli gets to order instead of snatch drinks or order by proxy through adults. She looks like the cat who got the cream when she returns, broadcasting her contentment and plopping down as beside Hellan as an incautious hop allows, which is not shly distant. "Thanks for all this, then. I'll have chicken and roast taters and you can enjoy some if you want. I don't drink on an empty belly unless I wanna forget the rest of the day." Titter, burp, steady gaze.

"Mm," Hellan replies non-comittally. She's simply watches Kelinyx with a seemingly permanently tensed brow, trying to sort the girl out. She's more interested in her new pour of wine, drinking heartily, but her gaze does return Keli. "How old are you? Does your almost da' know you've been swilling so freely?"

"If it's got water he don't get too mad. If it's other stuff he says I better not let him catch me doing dumb things cuz of it." She shrugs contently, turning her body, hugging legs to chest with her feet on the seat to face Hellan fully. "He is a good man. One of the best men. I hope you understand that about him." Well she is tippled enough to gush a bit.

"Only if he catches you?" Hellan queries, narrowing in on that bit of wording. Her broad mouth curves up into a smile that might even be warm — at the farthest edges. She nods, a motion that lends well to dipping her head toward her cup for a drink. "Eonn is not a friend to all," she says, "but he is a friend to me."

She seems pleased with that status. "Things are weird lately. I…just stay in my hole or go out and play when I want right now. But he is my da for good and that's that. An as for drinkin' …well any dumb thing I do, if I get caught, I deserve to get punished. But I should still use my head. I try to. Now that I'm gettin' older I try to make some of my own rules, too, but rules don't work all the time."

"Well enough," Hellan assesses. Her bold, pale gaze goes distant for a spell, travelling beyond Kelinyx to no physical point in particular, full of consideration, perhaps imagining, perhaps nothing but the general haze of wine. "Hm," she utters with a faint jolt when she comes back around. The first thing she remembers to do is take another drink. "And why, pray, are things weird," she asks, though it sounds quite plainly to be humouring the girl until she adds, "Is Eonn well?"

"Yeah. Just that adult messin' about that I try to stay out of at all costs. But it's always something with every adult, so…the normal thing, I reckon." The chicken and potatoes are delivered, eaten by hand quickly though a section is left untouched should Hellan change her mind.

"Wise," Hellan declares. "You'd do well to remember it." Spoken more bitterly than complimentary, it may have little to do with Kelinyx at all. She ignores the food utterly, only drinking. Finally, enough courses through her icy veins that she's prompted to unclasp the metal wolf's head pin near her throat and dismiss her cape behind her on the chair. Though encased in the loose fabric of her sleeves, her arms seem strong when she plants her elbows on the table, eschewing lady's manners more than she has already. At least she levels both feet on the ground now. Her guard watches everything dully, slumping, enjoying the distraction Kelinyx has brought. It means he can relax.

"Well, I made it this far. Even through crazier people than any I know here." She smirks a bit, fingers and mouth shiny with her ungracious efforts to sate hunger. "There is a lot to do that isn't trouble or meddling, though. Most of the time I try to do that." Modest is the best weapon of young woman who gets things done, and this girl might be just that wise, or simply a little lush who enjoys speaking in vagueries.

"I'm sure you do." Hellan squints once more at Kelinyx, regarding her rather like she's never encountered a youth before and is set on determining what it is and how it works. Blatantly impossible, given that the lady is a mother. Still, her offspring don't quite resemble Kelinyx.

"You have long hair. Do you brush it a lot? And braid it a lot? I know a lot of Stark women like plaited hair. Even on their men. Men should braid their hair more. And their beads. Sometimes I braid flowers into peoples' hair. Would *hic!* you like me to braid flowers into your hear some time?" The child smiles again, as amused by her own chatty but thankfully not-too-loud yammering and silliness, at Hellan's reactions, engaged to be sure.

Hellan's critical gaze has turned into one of vaguely perturbed incredulity. She leans ever-so-slightly further away from Kelinyx, as if anticipating the girl might assault her with braids and flowers right now and seeming offended by the mere concept. "I think not. It's fine as it is. A braid is useful to keep it out of the way in a fight. I need no other silly trappings." She pauses; lifts her drink, pauses again— "Did you braid flowers into Eonn's beard? … That's a better place for them," she determines, deadpan.

Kelinyx missing any subtext, she gives an open smile and nods. "He likes it." The girl looks relaxed but attentive like a pup, bright eyes glittering as she wipes her face and hands on a damp cloth, still peering at the woman.

"Well good. Someone does." A thread of amusement causes Hellan's low voice to waver; not a laugh, but perhaps its distant cousin. She shakes her head, still half incredulous. Her watch of Kelinyx is not constant, and looking away and back, she takes note of the girl's attentive peer again and points at her with the hand clutching her cup. "You're staring."

Kelinyx nods. "I like to learn. Watching is learning, if you do it right." She does duck away, though, and might sport pink cheeks when boldness is mostly regained. "Do you not like him, or is it all your guards?" It's an attempt at conversation, at least!

"You're right there, child, but I'm not sure what you've to learn from me sitting here except poor manners on your part," Hellan bluntly replies, less eager to change subjects when that subject is sitting beside her suddenly sitting up defensively out of his slump. Her look his way could easily cut him into pieces. "They all have their basic uses; some are simply less useful than others. And this one in particular has forgotten to keep his mouth shut, which is a crucial aspect of his station, I might add."

Kelinyx begins playing with a tassel of her hair with both hands in a stroking motion, drink set aside. "Being useful is important to keep you from going crazy. The tough part is being useful without always getting used."

There's a moment wherein the woman considers Kelinyx's words and, in turn, considers taking them seriously; a few slow blinks of her eyes during which she might agree with the child. Abruptly, she lifts her cup as high as her chin, looking away, dismissing before she takes a long swallow, "Don't give him any ideas."

Kelinyx hugs her legs, watching the woman closely. "You look more like a person than a lot of other nobles. I like how you looks." Tipsy blink, blink, lip chew. "You got some giant bear of a man, I wager?" Either she doesn't know the cast in house Stark or she's fishing for data.

Hellan scoffs, but smirks with one side of her mouth. "I look like a person. Now there's a compliment," she stops just short of laughing. It would have been tainted with deprecating, anyhow. "He's no bear. He's leaner than a bear by a fair bit, and has wolf's blood, not mine."

Kelinyx nods her head slowly, then with theatrical and comic mugging, she scowls. "What is his name?" She lifts a fist. "I must shame him so that you see I am the one for you!" Odd sense of humor, but given the girl's demeanor that might be the norm.

The Stark lady stares flatly at Kelinyx, evidently incompatible to her humour. At long last, her pale forehead cracks into a series of wrinkles and she delivers plainly, "You are a strange child."

Kelinyx nods. "Just so," she openly agrees. "But I like you as much as I know so far. I will visit you next time Malcolm takes me over."

"As long as you do not make an attempt on my hair," she replies suspiciously.

Kelinyx agrees. "Not until you ask, my future wife." Before she can be rebuffed, Deli spryly hops up from her seat, does a bow and twirl, then sloppily but effectively dashes out of the tavern. One could only imagine what she's off to do with this new liberty.

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