(122-05-19) Waiting for Custard
Waiting for Custard
Summary: Another tense feast for Lord Carolis as he tries to read the House loyalties.
Date: Date of play (19/05/122)
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/plot:something-is-rotten-at-winterfell

Ned seems somewhat mollified, but wary as he leads them to dinner in the Great hall. He does keep glancing back to make sure Lord Carolis is not snogging his baby sister. They've pipers to play them in, but not the elaborate entertainment of Hunter's Home. The younger members of the household are out in force, to at least get a look at the Stark heir before bed time. This includes a blonde girl of seven, a toddler, and a lap baby all in care of a nurse and in their nightgowns. The older Ellyswoods are at the high table, including young Rikkard allowed to sit at the feast despite his young age. It looks like Lady Ellyswood and Lord Bran are presiding with Lord Carolis offered the place of honor.'

Carolis comes to dinner dressed for the part: a Lord of Stark at the height of his youth and power. But there are children about, and so he can't help but smile. He offers the little girl a fingerwaggling wave before he takes his place at the table. "Lady Ellyswood, you honor me. What a glorious family."

The Young Lady is giving Lord Carolis the exaggeratedly sweet smile that suggests she still might be thinking of sliding a knife between Lord Carolis' ribs on the off chance. the little girle giggles happily though. The heir of Winterfell is a Giant! And he waved! At her! Her little brother is shier and peeks from behind the wet nurse. She ushers them out and off to bed once Lord Carolis is up at the high table. Lady Ellyswood has changed into a lower cut gown of a rather clinging fabric. She blushes at the compliment, "I am proud of my children…. I see you've met our Allie." Lady Allie of the daggers in the dark gives her stepmother a bright smile. Lord Bran clears his throat, "Welcome to out humble home, Lord Carolis." He's a hard one to read, the eldest of the dark siblings.

Carolis offers Lady Allie a polite smile, his tone light as he says, "Yes, Lady Ellyswood, I have had the pleasure. She is truly a delight." He can't help but notice the Lady herself has, ah, dressed for *some* occasion anyway. And he's not blind, but he is a gentleman. He looks for Ned to see what his general demeanor is, though as Bran speaks, he looks to him and smiles. "It's a fine place. Strong walls, sturdy folk." It's the North. Does anyone need more amenities than that?

Lord Bran says blandly, "I'm sure you are used to much fancier in your travels to the South." The Lady Allie is seated to Lord Carolis' right and Bran to his left, both smiling identical enthusiastic smiles which could mean anything, really. The choice of who's cup and trencher to share of the siblings is left to Lord Carolis. There must be nigh a decade between oldest and youngest of Lord Ellyswood's first family, but oh do the three present look alike. Lord eddard is to his Stepmother's Left. Lord Rikkard is to his Stepsister's right and a few other castle notables fill out the high table. There is crisp hard cider in the goblets, yet another Wolf subtlety is trotted out. There are dishes of venison, trout, and the promised roast boar. Everything has the heavy sauces of the north and local herbs instead of fancy imported spices.

Carolis wrinkled his nose and said, "Fancy doesn't hold back the snows, does it? Seems like a great waste of resources to me." As much as he could get used to all those wasted resources, it did feel rather good to be able to knock them with fellow Norhtron men. Who, despite that he was there to dine with him, were probably debating killing him. He loads up the trencher, though the first thing he selects to eat, notably, is salted bread. "I prefer solid rock to fine facades."

The comment about fancy not holding back snows gets a general murmur of approval. Lord Bran sees Lord carolis' selection and with some amusement in his eyes lifts it to his own red, red lips, not biting, just making eye contact and waiting. Lady Allie is pointedly piling food onto half of her trencher, none of it bread. The Lady Ellyswood is leaning forward as she selects her bread, but luckily nothing escapes her gown, which much be sturdier than it looks.

Carolis can't help but smile with amusement of his own as Lord Bran holds back. Alas, poor stabby Allie. If she got a vote, Carolis would be so stabbed. So repeatedly stabbed. After a moment's regard, Carolis pointedly takes a bite of the bread, chews, and swallows. "I thank you again for your hospitality, Lord Bran."

Lord Bran makes eye contact with Lord Carolis the whole time as he exactly times each small movement of his eating of the salted bread to match Lord Carolis' though from his expression this might be a threat, a reassurance, or a seduction. "How could we turn away the Winter Rose from our gates."

Threat, reassurance, seduction. Those three things blur into one another so often in Carolis' world. A smile spread slowly upon his lips. "I fear I might have withered in the storm had you not let me in." Not that the weather is *that* bad, not by Northron standards, but 'not bad' by Northron standards means, like, only a handful of people might die in it. "However may the House of Stark thank you?"

Lord Bran cocks his head, expression curious, amused, "Do you speak for your Brother, then?"

"We are of a mind," Carolis says. He pays such close attention, but then, it is polite to give proper notice to the Lord of the House. "As we are of a blood." He takes up the hard cider now that he's entered into the 'don't poison me, bro' pact. "I would not go so far to put words in his mouth, but I know him well."

Lord Bran is hard to read, and so deliberately ambiguous. He is an eldest son though. He is focused on his visitor like a hawk on a patch of tall grass moving against the breeze. "Blood does not guarantee unity." Lady Allie gives all of them a look like she things Lord Carolis should only be the first to go. Lady Ellyswood looks like she's like to intervene, but something in her eyes suggests she doesn't quite dare, for all her 'now boys' attitude to the dark brothers earlier. Ned is looking at Lord Bran like he is considering beating his sweet sister to the Bran stabbing. Lord Rikkard is happily shovelling in boar in hopes that the faster he eats the faster they will bring out the custard.

Carolis inclines his head to Lord Bran and says, "That is true. Though the Starks have proven loyal to one another throughout generations. I know that my brother has every faith in me, thus you would have his gratitude for showing me hospitality."

Lord Rikkard rolls his eyes at the adult silliness. He has a plate full of boar, a chance at some unwatered cider and a promise of custard later. Earlier he held his own in a horse race with the heir of Winterfell. Really, does life get better than this? he happily sneaks tidbits to the hounds beneath the table. Lady Allie stabs her venison rather emphatically with her eating knife. Lord Bran wipes his lips on his sleeve and lifts his goblet, "To the Wardens of the North. May they always watch over us all."

Carolis lifts his goblet in turn. "Long may he reign." Not that Carolis is specifying which 'he.' He rather envies Lord Rikkard, who is doing exactly what he would rather be doing, i.e. inhaling half a boar with custard on the way. "So tell me Lord Bran — that was my father's name, did you know? Rather common, I imagine; it's been in our family for centuries — how fares your House amidst our trials and tribulations?"

Ned seconds the toast fervently and drinks. Lady Ellyswood, who shares his goblet looks relieved to be toasting something innocuous. Lady Allie drinks hers defiantly, staring at Lord Carolis. Lord Rikkard drinks proudly. Look! Unwatered cider just like a grown man! Lord Bran's smile is bland as he drinks, though his pale eyes watch his guest closely. They all chant "Long may he reign" with Lord Carolis and the rest of the Hall, so that is something. Lord Bran says, "Yes, I was named for your father, much as Rikkard was named for your other brother. You saw young Cregan and baby Karl earlier. The little girl you waved to was named for your poor sister that was. We support House Stark in these hills and will have none of the Glover nonsense. My father is off with the Mandalay banners, marching West and North towards trouble. I've ridden back to help with the defense of the Manderlay Coast, though our river is too shallow and rough in parts for us to worry much about raiders ourselves."

Carolis's expression pinches when his ill-fated sister is mentioned. He still can't get over how his fever broke the night hers consumed her, as though the gods had to pick one. Why did it have to be him? Did she not deserve to live? He schools his countenance, though, and he inclines his head to Lord Bran. "House Ellyswood honors us, and they are named after great men." He then regards Lord Bran with an rather blunt openness. "I know missives' meanings change from raven to raven and on down the line, but I swear by the old gods I am my brother's man. Given the times we live in, it isn't clear these days where the loyalties of the Houses lie. If you stand with my brother, than I stand with you."

Lord Bran's shoulder relax barely perceptibly. Lady Ellyswood's relief is open and obvious. Lady Allie still loves suspicious. Lord Rikkard nudges her hard in the ribs, "Told you! Ha!" Lord Eddard's expression is neutral. Lord Bran says calmly, "That is good to hear. We have heard many rumors and have had some peculiar ravens, one signed by yourself suggesting that might not be the case." here he eyes his sister sternly, "But surely the heir of Winterfell would not turn traitor to his Lord and Brother."

Carolis relaxes as well, and he shakes his head. "There is a conspiracy and an army gathered in my name. Whether they believe the ruse or know they're fighting against my behalf I do not know." He takes a drink of his cider, then starts in on the boar, having found his appetite. "Hence my caution; I don't know who sides with the conspirators and who sides with the Lord of Winterfell. I will meet with this army and know its worth soon enough." After a mouthful of boar washed down with cider, he adds, "The losses Cregan and I have suffered have only made us grow closer. He is the rightful Warden of Winterfell, and I pray he has a long life and a dozen sons."

Lady Ellyswood agrees with a hearty, "Here, here! And rightly so!" She drains her goblet in relief. Servants quietly refill all the goblets but Rikkard's, empty or not. The lad will have to stretch his drink out. Lord Bran leans in close under cover of their shared trencher and the pursuit of a particularly nice bit of parsnip, "I truly am sorry for all your losses. Though my family is by some measures over abundant, I would hate to lose a one, and you've had so many…. If there is ought we might do to cheer you this evening, let me know and I will arrange it." Ned's glare suggests he has some ideas as to what might be whispered.

Carolis angles so as not to get between a man and his parsnip. He offers Bran a small smile, equal parts gratitude and remembered sorrow. His voice drops as well, merely following the flow of conversation. "Your regards are heartening, Lord Bran. It does my heart good to know there are Nortron men who still remember the meaning of loyalty." He plucks up a tidbit of boar to pop in his mouth, then he grins. "I wouldn't say no to an evening of diversion, though." *He* means music, but some boys are just drawn that way.

Lord Bran watches Lord Carolis eat the bit of boar, then sucks a bit of meat from a rib, watching, watching. Lord Eddard is pouting again, as he reaches for his goblet. Lady Allie is still not entirely convinced, but she's being less overtly stabby with her eating knife. Lord Eddard gestures and the pipes start playing "Bear and the Lady fair." Of course.

When the music starts, Carolis brightens, and he says, "Ah, now it is a feast." He clasps his hands together. "Lady Ellyswood, would it be presumptuous were I to ask for a dance?" The temptation to ask Allie was there. It was. But he's still not sure he's out of stabbing risk yet.

Lady Ellyswood agrees heartily enough and is light on her feet. Lord Rikkard looks disgusted. Will there never be custard?

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