(122-06-09) Of Bloodoaths and the Blackrood
Of Bloodoaths and the Blackrood
Summary: In which Alaeyna outlines her terms for release to Jervis.
Date: Date of play (122-06-09 IC)
Related: An Oakheart at Skyreach


The next afternoon finds Jervis not in his room, as he has taken the opportunity to explore the estate a bit, though remaining in the interior of the manor for now. Pleasantries are exchanged, if not necessarily returned, with the house staff. He does not try to venture into any obviously private areas, such as personal bedrooms, but any place with an open door that is accessible from a public hallway gets its own due inspection. It is the library that he gravitates to, though, and lingers for more than a few minutes inside its interior. One can tell a lot about a person, or a family, by what they read.

Skyreach may, as a whole, favor utilitarianism over lavish splendor, but it is a fine keep and its library is nothing if not respectable. Shelves upon shelves are lined with tomes, most of them pertaining to the history of Dorne, its houses and lands, but there is plenty to offer a well-rounded education. There are books on lands near and far, with countless volumes dedicated to a broad range of disciplines and trades. The family has a history of scholastic pursuits, that much is clear.

Those same servants he'd taken such pains to greet and and be pleasant to keep a duly watchful eye on him, and his whereabouts are easily reported when Alaeyna inquires after him. And so she comes to the library, leaning against the arch at its entrance, wordlessly watching Jervis take his inventory of the room. By the light of day, it's easier to take a measure of her. She's dressed in flowing crimson silks, belted under her bust with a cord of leather. Her hair is today braided, coiled over one shoulder and decorated at its end with beads and bells of silver and gold. She is laden heavy with jewels at the neck and wrists. And, too, something that was not readily apparent in the darkness on their last meeting: she is with child.

Jervis has selected several works to peruse, histories all of them, two of them specific to Dorne and one on the North. If there are histories pertaining the Reach in this library, he has skipped over them. It's as he turns to find himself a chair with good sunlight for reading that he notices Alaeyna. "My lady," he greets, again with a courteous bow. "I trust the afternoon finds you well?"

He himself is attired differently, in that he is not wearing a bed blanket, of course. His clothes have been selected with an eye toward local fashion, and of obvious Dornish influence. He is also armed, though only of a sort; the knife that is belted in a sheathe at his side is actually much more for general utility than anything, a tool not a weapon, and would fare poorly in any sort of fight.

Alaeyna has half of a peeled blood orange to hand, and she strips it of a section while she watches Jervis, biting into it just as he turns to find her watching. She smiles, after she's devoured the juicy bit of fruit, getting a good and proper look of him for herself as she enters the room, moving in his general direction. She eyes him brazenly, head to foot, sinking her teeth into another quarter of the blood orange and chewing it thoughtfully as she inspects the tomes he's selected from her shelves. "This one is rather good," she observes, tapping the spine of one of his choices. It's the northron one, and it prompts a mischievous glitter in her dark stare.

Rather than reply to his question, she finishes her orange and then moves to the shelves and retrieves a slender book, bringing it back to Jervis while sucking a bit of errant juice from the ball of her thumb. "But I think you'll enjoy this best of all." He is young, and male, and she assumes not well learned when it comes to women. The volume is a well-known Dornish pleasure text, recounting the myriad ways Nymeria wooed Mors Martell.

Jervis takes the tome for closer inspections, and glances at the cover and a bit of artwork that does seem to rather well capture the subject matter of the text. "A different sort of history, this one, it seems," he notes, with an affable smile. Surely he has noticed that she is with child, though he rather politely does not comment on this; after all, one tiny mistake in the assumption could have disastrous implications if voiced. Not that he thinks he's mistaken, but still a valid concern. "I've not read it before. Actually, I've read one of the Dorne histories and the Northern one, it's only the third that is new to me. Tell me, do you think I'll be having time to do much reading?" It is a roundabout way of asking her intentions with him, naturally.

"I suppose that is entirely at your own discretion," Alaeyna observes enigmatically, moving to a small table beneath one of the library's windows and leaning against its edge. There is no mistaking that she is with child, on the better side of halfway along. She watches Jervis with that whip-sharp stare of hers, as if she analyzes the ways in which he bears his brother's likeness in his physicality.

Those who are observant would note that Jervis has, in fact, noticed the pregnancy. Though he is not so rude as to stare, a subtle glance does linger on the woman's stomach for a fleeting instance, long enough to confirm his own unvoiced suspicions, before moving on. He, too, chooses to remain standing, following the woman though keeping a comfortable distance away, by one of the windows, which he glances out briefly. "It seems that your household is entertaining others this week, my lady. I seem to have spotted a number of Targaryen armsmen in attendance, along with my own, humbler presence. Is there to be a formal dinner, perhaps, or some sort of festival?" Since alluding to questions has proven to be an unreliable strategy, he resort to direct questions now.

This amuses Alaeyna, that he should ask about the number of Crownlanders taking residence at Skyreach. Indeed, she has a rather large Targaryen host beneath her roof, and when he questions her, she tells him, "Indeed, we are to have a tournament. The Prince of Ashes has insisted upon it." He may have been at Blackmont for rather a long time, but there aren't many who don't know Maelys Targaryen's violent reputation, and it may be that his hosts informed him that the infamous scion of that great house fought for Dorne at the Trial of the Seven, against Jervis's own brother and other of his countrymen. Absently, a hand goes to the swell of her stomach, resting upon it idly.

Jervis says, "Ah, a tournament. Always popular." He smiles again, but more thinly this time. "I should like to watch, assuming that I am still here as a guest, of course." Unlike his brother, Jervis is not known for his physical prowess or showings at tournaments. Truth be told, he's not known for much of anything save being the younger, seemingly less violent-prone brother of the Blackrood. His service as a squire, however, must mean that he has suitable experience with both blade and horse, though. "I was wondering, my lady, if you had come today to speak with me about your plans for me. If you'll forgive my bluntness, what exactly do those involve? I would find myself much more able to assist you if I knew what they were."

"I expect you will miss it," Alaeyna says, perhaps revealing the first meaningful insight Jervis has received since leaving Blackmont. "For it will be at least a moon's turn before it is held. Perhaps closer to two." She shifts against the table, easing out of her lean against it that she might move toward Jervis, having no particular care for things like personal space, it would seem, for how closely she joins him at the window. "My, but you are persistent. Do you miss your homelands so very much?"

Jervis has learned something! It was an uphill battle to get that much detail from the woman, but at last, he has learned at least one, small fact about his future. At mention of his homeland, his mood turns less light-hearted and more serious. "I haven't seen my homeland, or my family for that matter, in nearly eight years," he says quietly. There is longing in the tone, undisguised, as the question seems to have lowered his typical guard. "The last letter I received was over two years ago. I've heard word my parents are well, in good health, but little more. And it seems ages since I've seen Old Oak…" He trails off, drifting into memories, until after a few seconds a purposeful shake of his head brings him back to the here and now. Looking directly at the woman, he answers, "Yes, I do miss my homelands, very much."

Alaeyna doesn't seem sympathetic, exactly. Maybe it's his likeness to his brother that keeps her on the edge of her guard, as if she suspects their similarities must run deeper than the surface. But by the same token she realizes, too, that this is a different creature, and credits his years in Dorne as having wrought him into something finer than his brother. "As part of my negotiation with Lord Blackmont, I arranged to have your letters brought here with you. Once I have finished reading them, you may have them."

Jervis suspected, or really in his mind knew, that it was not his family who had stopped writing. He also suspects, or knows, that his own letters were similarly unlikely to be delivered. This whole conversation really has served to disarm him, as a longing for his homelands is something very, very real for him. "Thank you, my lady," he says, in all honesty. "Though I hate to impose, would it possible for you to arrange the delivery of a letter to my parents? I fear they may have not heard from me, in my own hand, in some years."

Alaeyna offers him a gracious nod when he thanks her, and says, "I know what it is to be in a land that is not your own, surrounded by people who are not your own, and want nothing so much as to be with them once more." He makes the request he does of her, but she's off on her own tangent now. "I imagine it is how my cousin, Osric Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, must have felt in Oldtown, when your countrymen conspired to paint our people as ruthless killers of women and children, guilty for the senseless massacre at Wickham's Nest. How heart sick he must have been for Dorne. How brave he was to protect his wife, and her sister, and his countrymen, the lot of them that were trapped and held hostage in Oldtown for crimes they had no hand in. How heavy his heart must have been, that day at the Trial of the Seven, when he fought to vindicate himself and his men of the unjust accusations lain at his feet by the likes of Laurent Tyrell and Abram Florent. I wonder what his last thought was, before your whoreson of a brother murdered a true paragon of virtue."

Well. That escalated quickly. As soon as he heard the name out of her mouth, though, he could see the direction was taking, as they are all words that he has heard time and time again. He squares his jaw and lets the woman get through her tangential tirade. As there is nothing to be earned in arguing the objectivity of events, he doesn't. What he does do is say, in apparent sincerity, is, "I'm sorry for the loss of your cousin. Believe me, there is no one who would like more than myself that a truce, a truce in truth and not merely through formality, be obtained between our families. For an end to the tit-for-tat acts of unnecessary cruelty that have persisted through too many years."

Maybe the apology placates her, but probably she had just already made up her mind about this. "I am prepared to release you to your family. You may write your brother today and invite him here directly to retrieve you, if you are prepared to swear a blood oath that so long as you live you shall never be a party to or instrument of violence or conspiracy against House Martell and the people of Dorne. In turn, I will swear a blood oath that your brother will be given guest right under my roof." She pauses, observing his reaction. "What say you?"

Jervis's eyes say suspicion, is what they say. That they sense a trap in the making. That the Dorne version of 'guest rights' may be more flexible than others. "Which brother are you referring to specifically?" he asks, because he does have several that still live, even if he holds strong suspicions as to which one she is referring to. "I cannot speak on any of their behalf's. I can extend the invitation, and they may decide themselves if they wish to accept." The matter of the blood oath takes a few moments of consideration. Such things are not to be entered into lightly. But Jervis is not his brother, he's not any of his brothers, and he did speak the truth when he spoke of desiring truces, not further bloodshed. "I would be willing to swear such an oath, for the return to my family and my homelands."

He asks which brother, and Alaeyna laughs. "You know which brother. The Blackrood owes me a duel, and I will have it while he is here. You will put it in your letter, in addition to informing him of the oath I will swear before you that no harm will come to him during his stay at Skyreach." His eyes say suspicion, and so too do hers; the look she fixes him with is nothing if not a challenge. "And should he choose not to come for you… well, I suppose you will have very much time to enjoy my library."

Jervis has gone from hostage to bargaining chip. It's not an unexpected change in circumstances. "I will write him, as I said, but again I cannot speak on Quill's behalf as to how he'll respond," he warns. "We've not spoken in… well, in years, and that was in letters." He has of course heard the stories, through the Dorne versions, and 'whoreson' is one of the milder comments he's heard in the grand scheme of things.

"I do not expect you to do more than write the letter and bide your time," Alaeyna says, moving away from Jervis to go to the window and peer out into the rocky mountain pass beyond. "You will dine with me tonight. Then we will swear the oaths. You may write the letter at your leisure; once I have read it and am satisfied with its contents, it will be sent. Write it today, if you like. Write it in a month. It is your choice."

Jervis says, "Very well. I will have it for you at dinner." He, for one, is eager at the opportunity to see his home once again. Whether or not Quillian accepts the invitation is up to his brother who, by all accounts that Jervis has heard, is able to look out for himself rather well. "May I take two of these volumes back to my chamber, to read at my leisure?" he asks. A tap of the finger indicates the one on Dornish history that he said he hadn't previously read and, yes, the pleasure text that Alaeyna had drawn attention to earlier.

Alaeyna smiles, at last, when he pledges to have the letter ready by dinner. "I will have ink and paper brought to you with your meal this afternoon," she tells him, satisfied by her inspection of the mountain pass from the vantage point offered here and turning away from the window once more. Her gaze flits to the books he carries, and she tells him, "Of course. Only take care with the one I chose for you. It is a particular favorite." Her smile is a little wicked, and when he cracks the spine on it in the privacy of his chamber, he will swiftly learn why.

"Of course, my lady." With the conversation concluded, Jervis gives another polite bow, books tucked under his arm for later reading. He is sure to blush at dinner tonight, should the conversation turn to the reading matter. In the meantime, though, he simply takes his leave, as there letters to be written.

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