(122-07-10) Faith, Friendship
Faith, Friendship
Summary: Marsei and her friend and handmaiden, Aylee, talk while Marsei has omens and the shadows of Cider Hall on her mind.
Date: 10/07/2015
Related: A Song of Dragons, Finding Fossoways, Delicate Dungeons

Northwest Suite - 3 - The Hightower Battle Island

This is one of the smaller of the Hightower's suites, but it is still grand. It offers a unique view from its large window — from the opening one can overlook the city and see the seven domes and seven towers of the Starry Sept, and the Maidenday Gardens in the middle distance. The window has a wide padded sill large enough for one to sit comfortably and watch the city. The room is decorated to reflect the view, with images of flowers and gardens. Vases of flowers sit on all the tables with beautiful blooms and greenery. In the large sitting room are velvet-cushioned chairs and couches. The dull gray stone flooring is covered with a dark hunter green Myrish carpet trimmed in gold.

On one side of the suite an archway leads into a little dining room, suitable for ten or twelve people, and on the other there is a door leading to a bedroom. In the sleeping chamber a large four poster wooden bed rests in one corner, with a green and gold coverlet and lavish pillows. A matching wardrobe and nightstands are also present in this room. The nightstands boast crystal vases with lily flowers. The wall that leads to the sitting room is equipped with a hearth that heats both rooms should it be needed. In one corner sits a large copper bathtub.

Sun shines pleasantly through the window of Marsei's lavish suite and onto the lady herself, who sits at a slight, poised angle on the padded ledge. It brightens her soft red hair and its loose waves and gentle braids, and singles out the freckles of her fair skin. It would be a lovely day to walk the gardens as she so often does, but she prefers scarce and selective company today; a couple of handmaidens and the dove that still resides in a gilded cage ever since she plucked the injured little creature from the Maidenday Gardens, not quite able to fly like its wilder kin. It's not so affectionate a pet as a cat or dog, and so she sits with her arms wrapped around the cage itself, not minding if it seems silly; at least not in the comfort of her own rooms, with her trusted companions.

She watches the vast view of the city, deep in thought, a common occurence; even more common in the last few days, ever since she visited the sept early one morning.

Aylee Costayne is not a girl who can claim much faith of her own; she'd not been brought up into it, and her natural cynicism leaves her quietly less than devout, but Aylee Costayne DOES care about her lady. Perhaps more than is entirely proper; She'd been displaced from a family where she was the primary caregiver—-perhaps it is unfair that most of her fretting and empathy has been placed on Marsei's shoulders but the blonde woman has nothing but quiet worry etched onto her features as she indulges in needlepoint. Aylee likes to keep her hands busy, even as she watches her lady cuddling a gilded cage, and thinks that the sight is almost a metaphor. For what is her lady if not trapped behind golden bars? The blonde hums softly in the apple of her throat, and pauses for a thoughtful moment before speaking. Aylee has a soft, metzo soprano voice; sweet and mild. "My lady, if I am not overstepping myself…It seems to me as if you find yourself troubled today." A diplomatic observation; Marsei can choose to ignore it if she should desire.

Marsei looks from the window without startle; she isn't taken from her thoughts, only reminded, warmly, of Aylee's presence. She smiles, grateful for the care her handmaiden takes in asking; her expression is gently reassuring, as well, quick to express that there has been no overstep. "I suppose that I am," she admits, although her voice, soft to begin with, is light; making light of herself, perhaps. She looks down at the cage in her arms, shifting her hands to the sides of it, over the delicate bars. The dove simply bobs its pale head, looking askance with ambiguous black eyes. She rises, sets the cage back on its hook, and reclaims her seat at the window, hands folded upon her lap. "Would you sit with me?" she asks like an offer, in the kind and hopeful way that she so often does; there's rarely a true demand from Marsei's mouth, be it to friend and handmaiden or servant.

In the light pooling from Marsei's window, Aylee's eyes look more tawny than brown. The girl is serious and thoughtful by nature, but Marsei pulls a soft smile from those placid features. The blonde sets her needle point aside carefully, and stands, smoothing out the heather gray folds of her skirt that have only the softest touch of lavender to them. Aylee has not braided her hair today, and because she has not left her lady's side except to make sure the noblewoman is fed, blonde locks fall mostly free, secured only at the temples. Aylee settles herself next to her lady and settles her own hands, palm up in her lap. It is an invitation that Marsei is free to ignore; Aylee is the sort of girl that offers comfort easily and takes no offense if it is not welcome. "Of course, My lady." A soft pause here. "I…do so hate to see you troubled." But the tone is mild. Inviting but not demanding.

"How sweet you are." Genuine words of admiration, from Marsei's mouth, that could so easily be meaningless from another. She smiles all the while Aylee makes her way to the seat. Only once the younger lady is situated does she tip her head down, gaze lowered under the quiet struggle of her thoughts. "After Prince Dhraegon's nameday celebrations, I'm… considering visiting Cider Hall," she says slowly, the conflict about this possibility evident in her already; not only in the uncertainty of her voice, but the subtle tension of her brows. They're paler than her hair and the sun shines right through them, just hints of copper. "At the same time, I can scarcely bear the thought." One hand parts from the other to lay on Aylee's open palm, squeezing gently, not only in comfort, but solidarity; they both experienced Cider Hall together. Right up to the abrupt end of their time among the orchards of House Fossoway.

Aylee settles her free hand on top of Marsei's. Solidarity is an accurate description of it; their last days at House Fossoway had been unhappy ones. Aylee looks down at their hands, brow furrowing delicately. "You are brave, My lady." she offers in lieu of anything more comforting, voice soft. Here, in this room, alone with Marsei and her friends, it is not hard to be a little more open; her features say that she is worried, and yet still she hesitates. "May I ask…" There's not a very delicate way to ask, and it chafes. "What has interested you in visiting?" Because though Marsei had been cleared of suspicion, Aylee had always felt that the house had been unkind to her lady. Especially in those last days. "You…have always done the right thing, My lady. If you feel that you must go, it is surely so. And if you'll have me, I shall go with you." If for no other reason than to be sure that Marsei could find more than one friendly face in those friendless halls.

"I … left things somewhat unsettled with Lady Jana," Marsei says of her truest friend among the Fossoways. "I'm afraid her visit to the Hightower was rather … o— " she delicately pauses, "overwhelming." She rather understates the visit in question, tensing her lips in something of a guilty fashion. Yet the tumultuous, confusing events that brought the Fossoway visitors to Oldtown for her betrothal party are not the whole of the thing; no, she shakes her head gently. "There is … another matter. A favour. The father of Lord Haemon is not well, and I would like to speak to him and his wife about their other son, Lord Istor," she goes on quietly. The quieter her voice, the smaller it always is. "But all of that is nothing compared to … to how I cannot imagine walking those halls. Even the thought of walking beneath the apple trees, despite how beautiful they are this time of year… with eyes upon me. What shall they think of me, now that I have left and so soon become betrothed to Dhraegon." She squeezes Aylee's hand ever-so-slightly tighter, confirmation enough that she would like the company on the trip, even if she does not yet say so.

Aylee's hand tightens softly around Marsei's. Aylee is good at listening, and whatever her other faults, she is never dishonest with her lady. There is a long pause where she considers what Marsei has told her, and also wonders about the Hightower's interest in Lord Istor. She doesn't ask. "My lady…anyone who knows you truly could never think on you with such unkindness." she assures the redhead, crossing her legs at the ankle. "You are a kind, gentle woman. Your friends at Cider Hall know that a woman does not marry according to her own whim. And truly, anyone who knows you cannot help but love you. If there are those who make judgments of you, they cannot claim to be your friends." Says the blonde gently. "Forgive me if I speak out of turn, my lady. I have never known a person so kind and gentle; surely Lady Jana will be pleased to see you, and perhaps returning will…show those who doubt you that you still hold House Fossoway in your heart, regardless of your circumstances."

Marsei's face brightens, uplifted, casting her warm smile on her handmaiden, touched by the kind observations cast upon her with a near painful sincerity. She lifts her seawater gaze to Aylee, listening intently and wistfully to every word, so clearly wanting to strongly to believe them — yet a hint of woeful denial swirls behind them, as if believing she ought to refute them, instead. She does not; she blinks a few times, briefly wet-eyed, she gives a gentler, thankful smile, and looks out the window once again. "Your company will be a welcome comfort. And I am certain there are many at Cider Hall who have missed your face, as well." There's a pause before she wonders, half-distant, "Do you believe in ill omens, Aylee." It might be rhetorical, all told. She knows Aylee's life thus far hasn't lended itself well to believing much in the faith, and what are omens without religion but superstition?

The brightening of Marsei's features is such a welcome sight. Aylee's own soften; Aylee's face naturally lends itself to severity and dignity, but with those she cares for, those features often soften. It is a gentleness that makes her lovely, perhaps because it is so sincere. "My lady, you do me a great kindness to allow me to attend you." A pause here. "I admire how gentle your heart is, but I worry that there are those that might abuse it; it gives me great comfort to know that I am welcome by your side, even if only so that I can share in your burdens such as I am able." Another squeeze of the redhead's hands. Aylee's back straightens slightly, and she turns her face toward the sun, expression suddenly a touch distant, as if she is remembering. "I'm afraid, my lady, that I cannot say there is much I do believe in." Her tone is gentle; perhaps in acknowledgement of the fact that Marsei's question may have been rhetorical. There is a long pause as the blonde tries to find a way to articulately state her opinion. "However, my lady mother was…faithful. And superstitious." Another pause. "I can say that I believe in omens because they are important to my lady. And if there are people who deserve to be warned of ill tidings in advance, or people that the gods favor…then they ought to be people like yourself, my lady."

The Hightower lady's free hand drifts to her chest, above the modest collar of her pastel-hued gown and just beneath clavicles thinner than saplings, curling absently in thought ever since Aylee mentioned her heart. Its potential vulnerability. The concept unnerves Marsei, a passing tremor of a worried expression amid the warmth with which she turns to recieve Aylee's sincere words. She looks upon the younger lady with admiration in turn, fond. After a pause of her own, thinking, she decides humbly, "I should not like to think of myself as favoured by the gods … but— yes, I will pray to the Crone for the wisdom to know what to do with the omen I have been given." For a moment, she looks to the birdcage. When she brought the dove home, she was full of excitement, thinking it was a good omen from the Maiden. Whatever omen she must consider now is much darker. She sets it aside. "Enough of my troubles," she says, inquiring sincerely, "What of you? Has your brother sent word, after last evening?"

There is a slight pause, as if Aylee isn't certain she likes the change of subject. But, for all of Aylee's faults, she is never dishonest with her lady. "No, my lady. I'm afraid my brother…may have forgotten my request." It is said carefully, but with very little emotion attached; her brother has often been a distant figure, favored by their father, where Aylee herself has been mostly forgotten at best, and at worst, the subject of ridicule for not finding a suitor. "I had hoped to speak with him. Perhaps convince him that placing Kenna somewhere close might be of benefit. But I think, perhaps, my brother thinks himself above the subject of betrothal." Still, Aylee frets for Kenna. Though the two are close in age, she'd all but raised her sisters, and even now the idea of her being placed somewhere so far away chafes. "I'm afraid it must seem petty, compared to My lady's concerns. I'm sure my Lord Father will work for the best of the house, and for that I should be grateful. It surely isn't my place to question him." But something about her tone suggests that she's frustrated. Or bitter.

Marsei takes in every detail of the Costayne family developments. As much as Aylee frets over her, she cannot help but fret back; it's in her nature. Her gaze is one of empathy, something she is capable of even when she cannot truly walk in another person's shoes — but of distant parents and the issues of siblings, at least, she knows a thing or two. "It's not petty at all, not when it's family," she assures. "Perhaps your brother will come around. And your lord father," she says, optimistic, but leans in just an inch to say, eyebrows gently raised, "You will tell me if there is anything I can do to help?"

"I have no secrets from you, My lady." And it is true. As much as Aylee dreads leaving Marsei, a betrothal is necessary and might give her a little leverage with her father. And what can the Hightower possibly do about that? She has already done so much. "Your friendship is the finest gift you could give me, My lady. I'm sure it will all work out. Just as it will work out with Lady Jana, and your visit to Cider Hall." A pause here as Aylee looks out the window; the sun is getting lower than she would like. "My goodness. So much time has passed. Shall I go see about supper, My lady?" Marsei gets a soft smile though; it is thanks by itself, because she is not a girl given to smiles.

Marsei smiles brighter still, grateful for the faith that all will work out. Her gaze turns knowing, a silent acceptance of the thanks without needing to speak it out loud. "Oh, of course, please," she says of supper. "I hadn't even noticed it was nearing that time. How quick time passes with friends." She rises hand-in-hand with Aylee before parting.

Aylee smiles, apparently pleased to be considered a friend, even if Marsei has said it before. "Of couse, My lady." The blonde stands, smooths out her skirts, and offers a quick little curtsey to dismiss herself. She could call Siva to take care of the task, but Aylee has always quite liked Siva, especially since the mess at Cider Hall. Instead, she'll handle the preparations herself. She disappears through the door quietly.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License