(123-01-23) Devotion
Summary: Princess Visenya and Lady Ynys each bring a young lady to the sept and leave without her; they take their luncheon together and discuss, shall we say, household matters.
Date: 03/02/2016
Related: Lady Ynys's luncheon with Lady Lara the previous day.

Compared to the Starry Sept in Oldtown the small private sept in Starfall is very modest. But, some may prefer the elegant but simple representations of the Seven. Outside it is drizzling, but inside the dampness is kept at bay, and even though the space is not massive there seems to be a timelessness inside the Sept.

Princess Visenya is kneeling in front of the jewel for the Mother with Vynesa Manwoody at her side. Although they are in position to pray they seem to be speaking softly to each other. Visenya wears a more modest gown that is still made of sandsilk, and wears a fine mantle of white myrish lace over her head. Vynesa has copied her lady with a veil of pale sandsilk so fine as to be diaphanous. "…I do not think that you are not honoring your vows to the Seven." She says softly to the younger woman, "For when you are wed you become one flesh, and who hurts their own flesh?" She places a hand on her abdomen before she continues, "Even in the North it is seen sinful to strike one's wife without cause. Queen Rhaenys once said that a man may only strike his wife six times, once for each of the seven save for the stranger, but if he is striking her in the name of the Seven then she must have done something to offend the seven. And if she hasn't? Well, he is striking her unjustly."

By coincidence or an arrangement so deft as to pass for it two other ladies come to join them at prayer, the elder and more striking of the pair Lady Ynys, whose appointment as Princess Visenya's Mistress of Keys two days ago sent ripples through Starfall which haven't yet quietened. She has her arm round the waist of Lady Alysia Trant, a willowy dark-eyed young beauty with skin lighter than her mother's and rippling waves of raven-black hair, who was formally presented to Princess Visenya yesterday but of whom little has been seen all in all. Had her manners not been so impeccable upon that occasion, so polished and so genteel, one might even suspect her of avoiding royal company — but perhaps, as her mother confided, she's still grieving the loss of her father and doesn't feel inclined to any company.

Further proof of this conjecture is afforded by their attire: the mother's vivid dark golden sandsilk, cut straight across her collarbones and with sleeves for a change, very much versus the daughter's gown of quite ordinary Westerosi silk, in a quite ordinary Westerosi cut, relieved only by discreet piping in dark blue. The colours of House Trant. They don't flatter her; they can't have flattered Lady Ynys either, in her time as Lady of Gallowsgrey… Lady Ynys is bareheaded in the Dornish way, her curls caught back from her face with a green ribbon; Lady Alysia is draped with a thin blue silk mantle after the Westerosi style. Neither are smiling.

The sept is spacious enough for all its simplicity. It's to the point of the star where one may address the Father, that Lady Ynys begins to guide her daughter, without yet speaking in interruption of anyone else's devotions.

But recognising those two kneeling figures here before them, Lady Alysia begins to pull away from her mother's hold. "Not now," she murmurs.

When Lady Ynys and her young daughter enter the sept Visenya and Vynesa's voices lower to whispers. Eventually the younger of the pair rises, and goes to sit in front of the Crone on her own. Visenya remains in place in front of the Mother for several more minutes before she rises slowly, and lights a candle on the altar. She steps back away from the altar then, but looks as if she has a mind to wait for her younger companion. As she waits her eyes stray over to the young daughter of Lady Ynys, and she looks her over with idle curiosity.

Lady Ynys's strength of character prevails over her daughter's reluctance, as over a number of other small problems in recent days; Lady Alysia is not permitted to slip out of the sept again but is obliged by that hand at her waist to come forward, to commit herself, to carry through what she has come here to do. They kneel together before the Father's jewel, Lady Ynys's arm shifting up around the shoulders of her somewhat slighter youngest child. Something is spoken between them, too softly to be caught, in the dark velvet of Lady Ynys's voice and the brighter silk of her daughter's.

Not long after Princess Visenya lights her candle Lady Ynys arises, stretching. She reaches down to adjust a fold of Lady Alysia's dark blue mantle and looks at her for a long moment. Hands knotted together in her lap. Shoulders tense. No happier a creature, right now, than Lady Vynesa.

She leaves her to it. Her eyes then find the princess's and she lifts her dark brows in question: shall we or shan't we?

Visenya looks into Ynys's eyes very briefly before she steps outside of the Sept and into the Bailey so they may speak without interrupting the young women's prayers. She adjusts her mantle of Myrish lace to keep the drizzle out of her face, and wraps her arms around herself loosely.

The light rain doesn't seem to bother Lady Ynys; standing just against the outer doors of the sept they're not unprotected from it by the architecture of the place and she holds her bare head high. "How are you today, Your Highness?" She's been remembering the title more often. A deliberate effort.

Visenya gives Ynys a polite enough smile. The sort of smile that is appealing and appeasing without actually reaching her eyes. "Thank you for asking, Lady Ynys. I am quite well." She looks over the other woman's clothing curiously; this is not unusual. She likes looking at what other women wear. "How are you?" She asks, and her question is more loaded. "Lady Vynesa told me you had lunch with Lady Lara."

Lady Ynys must then be a feast for the princess's eyes, being possessed of a rainbow of silken gowns, Dornish in their bold hues and in their general style but often cut and draped with a greater modesty suggesting she wore them in her life north of the border. Her arms are almost always bare, however, showing a muscularity which would be downright bizarre in a Westerosi lady of her years, and an old knife scar high upon her left bicep.

"Yes, we did," she concedes with an easy smile. "I had hoped to find both your ladies together, but chance didn't favour me… I found Lady Lara alone; and Lady Vynesa so also, later in the day. They're very different, aren't they?"

Visenya probably approves considering that she often chooses bold colors that contrast starkly with her fair skin and pale hair. It may wash out other fair skinned women, but her bold amethyst colored eyes allow her to pull it off. "Yes." She smiles a shade. "They are very different." She admits in a lower tone, "I confess that Lady Vynesa suits…my temperament. Perhaps a little better than Lady Lara."

Not even the most lurid oranges and greens and purples wash out Lady Ynys's rich caramel complexion, her bold features, and her luxuriant mass of silvering black curls — and she may be said to take full advantage of this fact. "From what I gather you've been very good for Lady Vynesa," she murmurs, "and though it might be supposed to be her duty to be good for you, I think it is a kindness which speaks well of you to others. I'm glad you have some company to your taste…" Her dark brown eyes narrow. "Of course not all Dornishwomen are alike; we don't all meet the popular idea, any more than all Westerosi ladies are prim and chaste and stupid and embroider by the hour and yet swoon at a spot of blood." Such as often results from really intense needlework. "And I hope you've sifted carefully the advice you receive upon Dornish customs," she mentions, without precisely naming its source.

"It was Prince Torren who asked me to be kind to Lady Vynesa." Visenya says, and when she speaks her Prince's name there is a more genuine look of pleasure and joy on her face than there often is. "It was wise of him. I confess I adore the girl." This is also admitted easily and freely. "Mmmm, I knew Dornishwomen and men before coming to Dorne. Princess Mariya and I were friends in Oldtown when we thought she would marry my brother, and I will admit to flirting with Prince Alaryn on occasion. A bit ironic considering he is now my good-brother." She smiles, "Every single Dornishwoman and man I have met has been their own person." She says reassuringly, "I take my lessons on Dornish customs from certain people with more than a grain of salt."

Lady Ynys nods, unsurprised but a little relieved to hear it, not troubling to conceal her sentiments. "Of course you can and you do honour Dorne without becoming a woman your kin, and you yourself, would not honour," she reminds her quietly. "And any custom has its shades. My mother always taught me," she drawls, lifting her eyebrows again, "that a lady doesn't boast of her conquests."

"My faithfulness to Dorne is established through my vows of marriage to my husband." Visenya says in a soft, frank tone to Ynys, "I vowed to Torren before we wed that I would be his servant in all things. Our vows the day we wed were only a reiteration of that, but I take them very seriously. This thing…" She motions her hand vaguely, "Where she acts the harlot, and then acts like it is custom…" She shakes her head. "And I do not call her a harlot because she loves men. No. I say it because she has made it her complete and whole persona. I honestly don't know what else she enjoys beyond it." She looks to Ynys, "As you can understand it is a bit of a clash in our personalities. Ser Manfryd…" She lets out a sigh, and doesn't continue.

And then Lady Ynys does look surprised, by the depth and the solemnity of the vows Princess Visenya confesses to her. With only two days' acquaintance between them she says nothing upon that subject, counting it as too personal, but her eyes study the younger woman with a warm curiosity.

Her smile fades however at the mention of Ser Manfryd Qorgyle, and her gaze lifts up from the princess's face into the cloudy sky. "… Shall we go up and get out of the rain?" she suggests, less on her own behalf than her visibly expectant princess's. She nods to the sept. "I introduced those two as well yesterday. They'd be likelier to confide in one another without us listening."

"Only if we can eat something." Visenya says, her voice a mixture of sheepishness and amusement. "I find that I can no longer go without a midday meal without feeling absolutely ravenous." She makes no mention of leaving Lady Vynesa with Lady Ynys' daughter, but still she comes along, so she must not object to the arrangement. There is a moment's pause before she says, "And I need to feed my dragons. Would you like to see them? People seem to be either absolutely enthralled in them or completely unwilling to be around them in any capacity."

The Mistress of Keys regards the dragon-princess she serves with equanimity as they begin to walk. "You have two dragons, if I'm correct?" She nods. After a pause for thought she adds, in a tone considering though not reluctant, "I don't know what to think of them; I will have to find out sooner or later and it might as well be now. Will they eat first or will you? You might go straight up," she hints, "and I'll stop in the kitchens," the entrance to which they'll pass near on the way, "and order a suitable luncheon."

"Yes. Two of them." Visenya confirms. "I think they are quite beautiful, but I am rather biased in that assumption I suppose." She smiles then, "I'll eat first, I think." She gives Ynys a grateful look before she heads up to her chambers by herself.

When Ynys comes up she is sitting in a solar sipping on a glass of watered wine. The mantle of Myrish lace has been replaced, and she has changed into a looser gown in a poppy red that looks much more comfortable for lounging in.

Happily, Lady Ynys is not alone but shepherding a small train of serving-maids weighted down with such light, flavourful Dornish food as could be assembled in a hurry to assuage the appetites of pregnancy: cold roast lamb (fairly mild) and goat (lavishly spiced), fruits and olives and cheeses in plenitude, freshly-baked flatbread and the spicy sauce she discovered yesterday and admires greatly, and a generous supply of grape leaves stuffed with raisins, onions, mushrooms, and red-hot dragon peppers. The princess has hardly sat down when the platters begin to descend, accompanied by flagons of fresh water and a local red wine Lady Ynys chose herself to compliment the repast. She herself hasn't changed and her gown remains faintly damp, outlining the curves and the planes of her lean, strong body as she directs the servants with a word here, a gesture there, the result being an asymmetrical but harmonious arrangement upon the table, suggestive of beginning with bread and grape leaves and proceeding via roast meet to fruit and cheese. A shallow green glass bowl of Dornish wildflowers arrives also, to serve as a centrepiece.

Then the girls are dismissed with a firm word of thanks and Lady Ynys, already looking drier than when she came in, stands over the table pouring wine into elegant blown-glass goblets which match the flower bowl. Unadulterated wine for herself — and, after a glance at the pallor of the liquid in the cup already before the princess, half wine and half water for her.

"I hope this will suffice for you, Your Highness…?" she asks. "I thought the baby would rather eat sooner than wait for something to be cooked."

Visenya looks surprised at the variety offered up by Ynys. "You need not have gone to this trouble." She tells her when the dishes are brought in. Still, she looks grateful, and sits down on one of the low cushions at the table that she often takes private meals with Torren at. "You will join me, of course?" She asks Ynys once the servants have been dismissed, and waits until the older woman has sat herself down before she begins eating. "Thank you." She says, "I'm so famished I can barely think." She is silent for several moments as she puts food into her face, and only when she's gotten a few bites in does she say, "I take it that you wanted to speak more privately?"

Lady Ynys returns a slight smile for the invitation and accepts it by arranging a couple of cushions to her liking and lowering herself sinuously into their midst. "The trouble was the cooks', not mine," she points out reasonably, "and I didn't get the impression it was trouble. They don't mind feeding Prince Torren's firstborn child," she clarifies, "or yours."

She sits cross-legged, skirts smoothed into place about her and a linen napkin draped across her lap, and lifts her goblet of wine to Princess Visenya before beginning with undoubted pleasure her own assault upon the flatbread.

"Yes," she admits in answer to that last question. "Not so much of Lady Lara, who seems to me for the reasons you mentioned a woman of little intrinsic interest. I did however gather one or two points from my conversation with her. May I ask you, princess, why it was you left Oldtown when you did?" She breaks off another piece of her flatbread and rolls it between her fingertips. "I would like to see… whether you say what she said."

While Ynys speaks Visenya busies herself with eating. Once the older woman is finished speaking she pauses to say, "Lady Lara believes that we left because of Ser Manfryd's behavior. The real reason why we left…well, there are some things I must hold close to my chest." She has another bite of flat bread before washing it down with her watered wine. "And I shall be sure to convey my gratitude to them the next time someone goes down there on my behalf."

"Of course. I apologise." Lady Ynys nods and leaves the matter of the real reason there. Two days. Less, even. "And if in time you do have errands in Oldtown, I would be most willing to go on your behalf — I have a goodsister living there now," she mentions, "and it would be a pleasure to see her.

"What Lady Lara said to me was that you and Prince Torren were more or less obliged to leave after public opinion turned against you," she explains matter-of-factly; "I wondered how much truth there was in it, and how much she was speaking from her own instinctive prejudices, which I begin to feel may run very deep." She takes a slow swallow of her wine. "She seems blinded in some ways by her affection for Ser Manfryd. I'm sure speaking of him at any length won't lend savour to your luncheon but I would be remiss if I didn't ask you, now, after the inquiries I've made amongst others, as much as you're willing to tell me of the trouble he has been to you personally, and what form that trouble took." Her warm brown gaze lifts again from her plate; she looks into Princess Visenya's eyes with considerable gravity. "I assure you, Your Highness, I take this matter seriously — for your own security, for your own peace of mind, you have every right to know you have the full and sincere support not only of your own household but your husband's people as well."

"Oh." Visenya says as if she recalls before she shrugs lightly. She doesn't seem bothered by those words. "There was a bit of an uprising at the tourney for Prince Dhraegon and Lady Marsei's wedding after Ser Manfryd won the tourney. It was just smallfolk, though. And the anger was more directed at him, I'm sure." She purses her lips thoughtfully as if thinking, "Ser Manfryd made himself very unpopular in Oldtown. He purposefully tried aggravating the people there any chance he got." She lets out a little sigh then, "Ser Manfryd…well, where do I begin? He had to leave Oldtown because he was accused of rape." She lowers her voice despite them being the only ones in the room. "There is no proof of it, but honestly?" She looks into Ynys' eyes, "It wouldn't surprise me. And I spoke to the Lady Dowager, but I would appreciate it if you kept the young women and men in the household away from him."

Whilst she chews a fig Lady Ynys's lips twist in the natural disgust any woman of her people might feel toward a raper, a man who tramples upon the romantic freedoms the Dornish hold so sacred. "Now that, Lady Lara did not mention. That he was accused of something of which he was innocent, but no more. I will do my utmost," she promises, "to keep our charges out of his way — at the least, from what I've heard he strikes me as an unusually bad influence upon young minds and hearts. But you say…" She studies the princess, not quite finishing her sentence, until at last she does so by means of that lady's own words: "It would not surprise you, if he were guilty of such a crime?"

"It would not surprise me, no." Visenya confesses, and she sighs. "…The only reason see Manfryd is here at court and not banished is because we dare not rile up the Qorgyles at the moment." She sighs and pops one of those stuffed grape leaves in her mouth. "Ser Manfryd is like a spoiled child who hurts anyone who does not give him what he wants. Save for those he idolizes…such as Prince Torren. So, you can imagine the position it puts the Prince in when the man hasn't been proven to actually be a raper, and when he is so devoted to him. It will look like I am trying to remove all dissenting voices from the Prince's company."

"Lady Lara drew my attention also to the childishness of his ways… though she it seems finds them endearing," drawls Lady Ynys, lifting her brows as though to suggest that's not her idea of a catch. "There seems to be a consensus amongst his admirers and his detractors, that however many his years he does not behave as a man grown. Just how far then is he to be babied, Your Highness, for the sake of the Qorgyles—?" she asks bluntly. "And has he at least confined the expression of his opposition to your marriage, to private circles? On that point Lady Lara contradicted herself and left me uncertain."

"It is not just for the Qorgyles." Visenya says softly. "For if the Scorpions are stung you have to think of what political and familial ties they have. Who is more inclined to be loyal and less inclined. It's…a sticky situation." She reaches for the fruit and cheese now, and bites into a section of blood orange before she says, "There was an instance at Blackmont where he provoked me publicly. He then spoke about his relationship with Lady Lara, and I told him no true Knight speaks of a lady in such a manner. And then I left the table." She pauses to follow up her orange section with another, "Torren spoke to him, and he said some very unflattering things to me to the Prince in front of Lord Blackmont. So Torren hit him across the face. If he's said anything publicly about me after that I don't know."

"If he shows his loyalty to Prince Torren by his abuse of Prince Torren's wife, the mother of his unborn child, I don't think much of his definition of the quality," admits Lady Ynys. "I don't know the political landscape well enough," her eyes narrow with displeasure at herself, "after all this time; but I can imagine those implications… It seems to me that what we need is an inarguable reason for Ser Manfryd's departure from court, or indeed his dismissal. Not a better reason than the need for this household and your husband's household to present a united front in support of your marriage, and of peace between two kingdoms — for that is, I think, a sufficient reason — but a reason which will look better to the scorpions."

"If only everyone thought the way we do, Lady Ynys." Visenya says in an almost exhausted voice. "Unfortunately, they do not." She nods her head in agreement. "I would love such an excuse." She pops a piece of cheese into her mouth, and chews. "He will slip up eventually, and commit some unforgivable act. of that I am sure of."

"… I wonder how much damage," mentions Lady Ynys, "he'll do to this delicate, this sticky situation, before he makes that slip. As I said to Lady Lara, a child testing his limits may break a vase. A man may break somewhat more. The peace in Oldtown to begin with. And then there is the question of your position here, and what might be done to undermine it by the appearance of dissension even within your husband's inner circle. House Martell appears tolerant in this, yes, but I am not certain tolerance is the quality most valuable under the circumstances. I would prefer to see…" She lets out a quiet sigh. "A unity of purpose amongst the household, yours and his; and nothing serving to encourage the Ser Herolds in our country."

"Ser Manfryd is self-destructing, Lady Ynys." Visenya says with a little shrug of her shoulder. "And he is much less of a liability while we are in Dorne. Those who hate me? They will hate me with or without his words. And those who do not know he is a fool." She shakes her head then, "I refuse to give that loathsome man more of my time or energy than I must. He has certainly pulled out enough rope on his own to hang himself with." She reaches for a sweet then, and bites into it before letting out an indulgent little sigh. "Enough of this." She says amicably. "Let us not ruin our appetites with unpleasant talk."

"As you wish." Lady Ynys inclines her head gracefully, though a preoccupied expression lingers in her eyes, suggestive of the fact she's unlikely to let go of this matter entirely. "I have heard much of Lady Lara's 'interests', but little of yours. How do you prefer to occupy yourself?"

"How do I occupy myself now?" Visenya asks, and then she lets out a light little laugh. "Seven keep me I think my newest hobby is eating." She has another sweet before she says, "In Oldtown I had some charities. One was for midwives training so the women in the poorer quarters could have assistance when they gave birth. One for orphans. Before we knew I was with child Prince Torren and I used to practice swords together." Her eyes roll upwards, "I like reading. I love clothes. Oh goodness I think I have more than anyone has a right to." She laughs again, "And you, lady Ynys?"

"A princess is supposed to wear many gowns — the smallfolk would be disappointed in her if she didn't," points out Lady Ynys, who after flirting with the cold roast goat has returned to the flatbread, dipping pieces of it again and again in the spicy sauce provided for the purpose. She nods to the rest. "I've no talent for swordplay," she concedes, "I only know how to fight with knives and with my fists. I like riding, hawking, hunting, swimming. Dancing," she adds, as an afterthought, after all those equally energetic outdoor pastimes. "I can shoot a bow well enough. After I took over my goodmother's still-room I was surprised to find I enjoyed making soaps and perfumed oils… I like the quiet; I like the scents." A thought crosses her mind and she eyes the princess. "Do you have something for the stretch-marks? I know how to make a very good salve," and her hand strokes down over her own belly as she confides, "to look at me you'd hardly know I had four of them."

"I'm not very good with a sword." Visenya says with a small smile and a shake of her head. "But I like the exercise it gives me, and it takes some patience to perfect it." She looks like she wants another one of those sticky sweats, but she goes for a piece of fruit instead. "Stretch-marks? No." She gives Ynys a confused look before she says, "What are those?"

Amusement flickers in Lady Ynys's dark eyes. "When your belly grows—" And both hands Ynys mimes the shape of a nine-months child. "Your skin stretches to fit the babe inside, and where it stretches there are marks. Red at first, silver with time. Not very attractive in either colour," she confirms ruefully. "If Lady Dayne will grant me the use of her still-room I'll make you that salve. To match your usual scents, the rose and the jasmine, or something else if you would like a change. If you put it on twice a day — I used to have my husband do it for me," the memory curves one corner of her mouth, "it eases the skin and it won't mark so much… perhaps not at all, if you're lucky."

Visenya makes a displeased little face at this news. "Really?" She asks, and then she shakes her head before saying, "That will not do. Thank you, lady Ynys. I'm sure I will ask you more regarding this whole business." She motions at her own growing belly, "My mother managed to have more than ten and never told us anything about it. She'd just get fat and holler a lot one day, and then we'd have a sibling." She then changes the subject to fashion. Because who doesn't love talking about pretty gowns?

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