(123-01-26) Musical Interlude
Musical Interlude
Summary: Lady Hastwyck comes upon a familiar Dornish minstrel beneath the apple-tree on the terrace at the Quill and Tankard; he proceeds to delight her senses just as thoroughly as, increasingly wine-befuddled, he can manage…
Date: 26/01/2016
Related: The party where they met.

Madrighal is under his favorite apple tree with his mandolin, a bunch of red grapes, and a cup of dry Greenblood white wine. He is not performing, having done that earlier inside. instead he is noodling, trying a set of musical phrases over and over in variations. His head is beant over the instrument, a cascade of braids half hiding his face. Now and then he pauses for a grape or a sip of wine, expression turned inward and dreaming instead of his charismatic performer's face.

The atmosphere inside the Quill and Tankard has become stifling, thick with merriment and a few too many clouds of pipesmoke — and so Lady Hastwyck, robed in teal-green sandsilk and with the veil of golden Myrish lace which earlier shaded her face from the sunshine draped now with negligent elegance about her shoulders, escapes into the fresh salty evening air.

Her steps are small and quick, her weight forward upon her toes; and in both hands she folds a full cup of the tavern's famous apple cider, reason enough for any lady possessed of a discerning palate to cross to this island once in a while. Her guardsman holds the door for her and her maid; and she lets out a pleased little "Oh!" at the sight of a minstrel (she doesn't know him at first) arranged beneath the apple tree as though to perfect the scene, and lingers in the torchlight, looking this way and that, innocently (drunkenly?) admiring the charming effect of the hour, the place, the persons…

The maid meanwhile produces from her capacious handbag a clean cloth to spread out upon the bench at one side of an empty table near enough to the tree. Where her lady sees Moonlit Romance — she sees stains waiting to happen.

In this light, he looks much as he did before his illness, the sharp lines of his too thin face softened. He must have noticed her for as she comes to settle, he flashes her a wicked smile, and his fingers pluck out a few measures of "Horse Pursuit" timed to her steps.

As it happens Lady Joy misses his glance her way; but when a familiar tune attends her meanderings, well, it can do so precisely only till she stops short and twirls in a flurry of silk and lace and turns a suddenly brilliant smile of her own upon him. "Oh, it's you!" she declares, trotting nearer to meet him beneath the spreading branches of his tree. "What a beautiful coincidence… Oh, but do you play here?" Her eyes widen. "Did I miss it?"

Madrighal flashes her another smile, "Not as often as I used to when I lived here, but yes, i come to play once or twice a week. I fear you have missed it and will have to make do with a private performance…" He sips his wine, "It was Lady Joy, yes? From the party? I thought that was you."

"Yes — Joyeuse Hastwyck," the lady echoes, giving him several little fluttery nods, looking altogether pleased that he's remembered her; "but, oh," and she draws in a breath and bites her lip, for she's just recollected how quickly this lovely boy was exhausted by his efforts to entertain at the party in question, "if you've played enough for one night, you needn't just for me, you know. People must always be expecting you to… I'm sure it's a bore quite often, isn't it?" she sighs. She hasn't sat down yet, being much too diverted by the discovery of him: her servants are lined up a few paces behind her, beyond the empty table and the cloth-draped bench so white in the half-darkness.

Madrighal sets his instrument aside, so he might rise and bow, kissing her hand with a warm brush of soft lips across knuckles, "It is fine. I was trying to capture a tune I want to compose, but it is not going well. A break is perfect, My Lady. What sort of song would please you best?"

Lady Joy shifts her hold upon her cup to offer him the hand he seeks; and her fingers curl just for a moment about his, in a friendly sort of way, before releasing him again to his mandolin. "Oh, I'm sorry your tune isn't coming along—!" she exclaims. "But if you're quite sure you don't mind playing," she says all in a rush, for fear he might change it; "why not… oh, an old Dornish song? The older the better! But not one that might make me cry. Is that too difficult? Perhaps you can think of something? Or anything, really," and she laughs aloud, accidentally shrugging her Myrish lace loose from one shoulder and catching it up again with a casual hand, "I'm not at all difficult to please…" And then she casts about for somewhere to sit and finds the place prepared by her maid: how delightful! She takes a step back and another sideways and there she is, perched ready to listen, her cup of cider on the table before her and her sandsilk robes safe from whatever may have been spilled by previous patrons or deposited by seagulls.

Madrighal shugs, "It is fine. These things take time. I will attack it again with fresh eyes later." His smile is all warmth, and from the flick of his eyes, is not immune to the charms of improperly afixed lace, though too well mannered to be obvious about it. "I shall play you a love song that is very old indeed, but which ends well. How does that sound?" He settles back in his spotbeneath the tree, takes up the mandolin and something beautful and ancient pours out of him. The song is in a mode once popular with Roynar, but not much used in modern music, which gives it a darker, ancient sort of feel. It is told in three voices, and here his two octave range shows to effect. He does the woman's voice not in falsetto, but a pure, rich, counter tenor. The Man's voice is taken from the bottom of his range, and the narrator sings in the middle. It starts with the narrator singing of the coming of the Rhoynar in their beautiful ships and one hold full of First men staying to fight the invaders. Here the woman's voice takes up the tale, in a rather good imitation of a northern accent. She looks out over the walls and resolves to fight rather than be taken. In the third verse, the man's voice picks up in a Rhoynish accent, singing of his lost country and all he misses. The forth verse is all defiance on her side and seduction on his, alternating quickly until she comes to want him and he to truly love her. In the fifth there are obstacles, families and people not approving of the match. in the sixth they are wed and their children spread through Dorne, a line given to each major location and it's specific beauty. It is a love song to the Country, really, about the beauty of the place and the culture.

The lady sits at first upright with her hands clasped in her lap, deliberately and ostentatiously attentive — but when she's heard a few bars, a few phrases, her eyebrows arch straight up to meet the dark red curls which have freed themselves from the loose half-up, half-down arrangement of her hair, and her lips part upon a word she doesn't quite speak. She forgets she's the only one, and she forgets to try to be a good audience for him — she's simply, wholly engrossed, leaning forward just a little further with each verse, sandsilk-draped bosom foremost as though the prow of a magnificent ship, until at the sound of his countertenor she suddenly draws back and sits straight again, beaming in admiration at this new surprise.

The final chords drift into the evening's gloom; and Lady Hastwyck breathes in deeply, lifting her hands and bringing them together in a gentle mime of applause, soft little claps rather than harsh loud ones. The feeling, though, that's supplied amply by the warmth of her gaze. "But I've never heard it end so!" she exclaims in a low, urgent voice; "I thought you were teasing me, and it was to be a sad song after all! It's always… you know…" And in her own tolerably pretty mezzo-soprano, coloured a mahogany hue as if to match her hair, she sings a few words from the final verse of a popular modern variation in which they all die horribly. She breaks off to promise him earnestly, "Yours is quite the most beautiful I've heard. I like it so much more! Did you alter it yourself? Or— or did you learn it somewhere particular?"

A glint in his eyes suggest that here is a man who can appreciate thatwell curved prow in a way a certain Prince does not seem to, though mostly he is focused on the difficulty of the shifting ranges and making the music as passionate as the characters. Madrighal sings for her the way he does for personal friends instead of the way he does on stage. There is an intimacy to it that has more warmth and less dazzle. His smile at the end gives her the full wattage of his pleasure at an educated audience, one who can understand what he is trying to do. He makes a small sound of delight at her own singing, "Oh! But you did not tell me you had such a lovely voice! So rich and full of passion!" He blushes faintly, "It is my true life's work, Lady Joy… may I call you that? It seems to suit you…. I search out different versions of songs, both modern ones and one ones i find embedded in dusty old books and try to…. piece together what the songs sounded like when they were new. I found the words in an old epic, but I pieced the tune back together by listening to hundreds of versions and trying to trace them all back to the root. It is not exact. I admit, part of it is simply having a feel for how people in different times played."

The compliment upon her voice only sets Lady Joy to laughing, and lifting her shoulders and looking away to find her cup of cider and bring it up to her lips. Still, she looks pleased, even as she insists, "Oh, you are kind! But it's nothing at all next to yours! I only had the usual sort of lessons when I was a girl… Oh, yes, do if you like," in reference to calling her by what is, after all, her most usual name. Holding her cup in both hands, treating herself to several more quick sips of that strong, sweet, unutterably fragrant apple cider, she listens interestedly to his explanation: "What a marvelous pastime, finding lost songs…! And if you love the music so," she reasons, "and you listen with such care — why, then, even if it isn't exact, won't you capture more of that feeling than anyone else could? Notes on a page are a very fine guide for one who doesn't know a great deal about music," her little shrug seems to suggest herself, "one who can only take small steps, but you — surely your own sense is the best star to steer by. … I'm convinced of it," she laughs, "and I believe in your song, Master Sand. It's pure coincidence that that belief happens to agree with so well with my taste!"

Madrighal beams at her, "You understand perfectly! That is what I am trying to do! It is why I came here, to capture the songs this side of the border. I once sung a duet with a northern Lord. The mountains were snowier and the animals in the forest different, but the tune he knew made a lovely harmony with the one we sing just east of here and more of the notes were the same than were different. I think it must have been the child of something the First Men sang in the dawn of the world! To me this is as exciting as finding a new island might be to my Grandmother's people…. I think you must have excellent taste, Lady Joy." He lowers those lashes, long and dark as a woman's, "Would you like to sing a duet, Lady Joy?"

"Oh, that I understand — most islands aren't anywhere near so lovely as your songs," confesses Lady Joy with another laugh, "though after a cup or two of cider I always begin to think this one is rather pleasant, I grant you… Oh!" Her lips part; her gaze lifts; she wavers. "Sing with you? You're really too flattering! Well… perhaps I might risk it, with the cider to help! But really, there was something I wanted to ask you, if we should meet again. I— I must admit I've forgotten your given name," and she casts down her gaze and deliberately sets her shoulders a-drooping beneath their shroud of delicate golden lace, creating the picture of abject feminine repentance, "for I met so many new people that night, one after the other, and the music stayed, certainly, but the names—! But I do recall you said you were — of House Toland…" Her eyes peek into his again, alight with curiosity.

Madrighal smiles warmly at her, "I am Madrighal Sand, acknowledged of House Toland. you remembered correctly. My Mother spends half her year there these days, her being less prone to wandering."

Lady Joy inspects him: "You don't look cross with me — oh, bless you. Madrighal Sand. I shall try very hard not to forget again — I shan't promise, because if I did promise, I'd surely forget straight away!" she laughs. "Well, it's because of House Toland that I thought — perhaps you might know my daughter. Lady Vanora," she explains, expectancy gleaming in grey-green eyes so very like her daughter's but for faint creases in the corners.

Madrighal he smiles her, "How could anyone be cross with you, but surely she is your sister and not your daughter! You do have the same eyes, now I look…." He thinks for a moment and launches into "An Ode to Two swords" which he an his Mother sang on the occation of her arrival at Ghost hill four years back. It is more traditional and musically simpler than his "horse Pursuit," but one can see that the same man had a hand in writing it, albiet at a younger age.

All the flattery sits well upon Lady Joy, who begins to speak and then at the sound of his mandolin puts a finger to her lips and hushes to listen.

She can however barely contain her giggles, even by pressing a hand to her ample and slightly quivering bosom when they threaten to get the better of her and interrupt the performance. "—Oh, you do know her!" she bursts out at last, before he's quite finished playing, and she puts down her cup of cider and applauds in earnest now, laughing over the crisp sound of her fingers meeting her palm. The enormous ruby ring on her wedding finger glows blood-red in the torchlight. "But it's a little too sweet of you to say sisters, you know," she confides, "at that rate it'll be all icing and scarcely any cake! We don't look alike at all, we never did, and besides that — I shan't have you cheat me of my proudest accomplishment." This she declares with a lift of her chin and a small smirk.

Madrighal laughs along with her, "Mother then, but you must have been married terribly young…. Indeed she is a Lady to be proud of, fierce and beautiful and well worth singing a song about."

"She's terrifying," Lady Joy agrees with a languishing sigh, "and the most wonderful creature I've ever set eyes upon! Oh, I'm so glad you like her — I can quite feel that you do… But did you really write it for her," her eyes widen as she thinks to ask, "or was it a happy coincidence?"

Madrighal sighs happily in agreement, "She is gloriously dangerous! I did write it for her, though I had not seen her up close when I did, and my mother did at least half the words. She is the better poet, though I think I' am the better composer."

"You really did, then…" That lady's mother looks him up and down admiringly. "I can't think of a sweeter present," she sighs, "and I'm sure she must have adored it… Well, I know I should have done; and we do have one or two things in common," she insists, sitting up even straighter. "I only brought her up till she was eleven years old," sigh, "but I taught her to sing, and to play the lute a little, though it was never her favourite pastime… She complained already that her hands were more suited to a sword or a spear or a knife." Lady Joy's shoulders (charmingly rounded, like all the rest of her) lift in a shrug; what can one do? "She might have got better if only she'd practiced. She used to like listening, though… I always played to her when she wasn't well, for hours sometimes. I'm so glad she has you among her kin, and your mother too… Half the year, you said? What music for her boys to grow up with — really, they're so fortunate!" she sighs.

Madrighal says, "I fear I haven't seen the small ones, but the eldest boy has your eyes and fine lungs if i remember correctly. I have not been home in a few years what with one thing or another, though I did see my Mother at the Skyfall Tourney. She's been the leman to a cousin of your Good Son's Father for three decades or so, so Ghost hill is home to me, though I am a wanderer by nature."

The proud grandmother's eyes brighten, perhaps unnaturally so; her hand curls instinctively about her cup and she drinks again, to buy a moment's thought and another taste of sweet fruity intoxication into the bargain. "I haven't seen any of the boys," she admits in a more subdued voice. "I was married myself and I couldn't get away — and then, well, the idea has come up once or twice, but the time was never quite right for her and for me at once… I feel oddly shy about proposing myself as a visitor, when… well, after everything." One corner of her mouth lifts. "Oh, dear, if you're not careful I shall wind up telling you all my secrets — I had it in mind to see if I could think of some recompense to offer for your music, but I must tell you," she laughs, "that wasn't it—!"

Madrighal drains his cup and comes to sit beside her, emboldened by the confidences, "I am sorry you have not. It is a sad thing to be seperated so long from family. Family is important…. After everything? Your widowhood, or something else?" his large dark eyes peer at her with real concern.

The lady's maid is a solid blob of shadow at the far end of the opposite bench, facing away across the water; her guard has taken up a station at the neighbouring table, between her and the door to the tavern proper and the few other patrons lingering upon the terrace this evening; and she herself turns obligingly to face him where he has alighted next to her. "Oh, this and that," she allows vaguely; "I did what I thought was best, whenever I saw a choice before me, but my daughter and I have grown apart in consequence. A long visit to Dorne might help us — or it might break us forever — and I don't suppose either of us is really in such a hurry to put the matter to the test, d'you see?" Her own fragrance is spicy, heady, unmistakably Dornish and very feminine — her breath could fell an ox with the sweetness of apples.

Madrighal wears a subtle citrus an spice scent. Although he has just had the one cup of wine in front of her there is a looseness in his movements that suggests that the cup was enough to send him spinning. He leans in to take her hand, tone and expression utterly sympathetic, "Of course you did! You clearly have a generous heart and a passionate spirit! Still what a sad thing to be seperated so long from a so beloved daughter."

Lady Joy lets him have her hand to hold; why not? She only needs the one for her apple cider. "… Sad enough to write a song about, mmm?" she teases, not for a moment intending that he should, but keen to lighten their communal mood before her own should fall too far. "Oh, but let's not say anything else that's sad — and after you played me two songs that could only conduce to happiness. Really, you have a marvelous touch upon your mandolin, Master Sand; it's a joy to hear you, a joy to have met you again tonight."

Madrighal shakes his head and wobbles a bit after, eyes wide with horror at the idea of being so indescrete with something of hers so personal, "Nonono! I wouldn't do that to you! It's too… intimate a mood for audiences to stare at." He smiles at her then a little wickedly, "It has been a pleasure to meet you too and to talk of home with someone who knows something of it." He lifts her captured hand to his lips to kiss again, long lashes fluttering over those beautiful eyes. This kiss is not the chaste blushing of the lips that the first one was. The wine and confidences have made him bolder and this kiss is rather more passionate and intimate than the other, though hidden from the view of others by the curtain of his braids. He watches to see how she might react, whether to pull bak or deepen the kiss.

Indubitably she holds her cider better than he his wine; and yet there's no thought, no calculation, in Lady Joy's answer to that kiss. She only lets out a soft little giggle, her fingers curling into his. "… You've been drinking, too, haven't you?" she teases fondly, not knowing his cup is his first, not thinking for a moment that such a sparing taste of wine might do so much for a fellow — though his small stature, his fragility, are painfully apparent now they're so near to one another. "But who am I to talk? I only come here, you know, because the cider tastes better on its own island than spirited away in a barrel — I hadn't thought to find such music as well…"

Madrighal does not press, though he does gaze at her ernestly, "Your beauty is not found in a bottle, but in your person…. I do still owe you a duet? Perhaps something simple we both know?"

At his talk of beauty and bottles Lady Joy only laughs again with the same easy affection, showing herself pleased in a none too serious manner, her hand still resting in his grasp and her gaze content to mingle with his. "Oh, if it's very simple," she insists; "I wouldn't want to let you down, mmm? When you do keep saying such charming things about me…"

Madrighal says, "Oh, it is quite deserved, I think." He bends a bit floppily to retrieve his instrument, but holds it steadily enough when it's in his hands, caressing her wood a moment before refocing on the widdow, "What sort of song would please best?""

And she gives him another slightly naughty smirk. "Oh, what about a drinking song? … I know lots of those," she confesses.

Madrighal smiles back rather mischievously and launches into a tune popular in ports both sides of the border. It is much simpler than "The Curious Mermsaid" witrh it's word play and pornagraphic innuendo. Instead this is a simple song full of drinks and kisses and drunken mishaps with the sort of chorus that begs to be bellowed with waving tankards around.

A flash in the lady's eyes reveals that, well, yes, she does happen to know the words to this one — and though in light of the fact they still have company at a couple of the other tables (albeit almost horizontal company, drinking steadily into unconsciousness or over the crumbled wall into the sea, whichever comes first), she adopts a discreet pianissimo, she favours him again with that richly coloured mezzo-soprano he admired earlier in the evening, and only gets a couple of the phrases in the first verse out of order, which isn't too bad for an amateuse afloat upon apple cider.

Madrighal is not nearly as crisp as he was earlier, the wine having gone rigt to his head when he stood the second time, but eerily, his musically instinct carries him through with a wine fueled warmth and passion. his beautiful counter tenor threads with hers on the verses, though he lets loose in deeper range on the chorus. His fingers play the simple chords as if of their own accord, his eyes being fixed on hers as he sings.

Lady Joy begins in hesitance, not quite accustomed to singing with someone else — and someone who's more or less a stranger to her, at that… But by the second verse, and the third, she's simply enjoying how much better her voice sounds to her own ears when mingled with his, and trusting him to keep on making it so. Looking at one another is only natural, and it helps, doesn't it, to keep in time and in tune? Her gaze flickers down sometimes, to admire the play of his slender fingers upon the sound box of his mandolin; and then finds his again, her smile broadening as they reach together for higher notes; and it's wonderfully easy, isn't it, to be in tune, with such an unfailing guide? Rather like dancing with a strong lead… In the fifth verse the music outpaces her memory and she resorts to la-la-la once or twice; then, abruptly, song turns to laughter. "Oh, but I don't think I know any more! Seven heavens! How is one supposed to recall so much, in one's cups—?"

Madrighal is good at that, at supporting, and showing the other person off to best advantage. He knows how good he is, but it is fun to show someone else how good they are. Then he is laughing with her, leaning against her arm, not able to play and laugh at the same time in his current state. He weighs next to nothing, really, despite his returning muscle and improved health since this time last year. "I think that it half the fun, the struggle to keep the words in mind and the laughing at the tripping tongue."

Objecting not at all to his proximity, laughing with him and wetting her throat with another drop of her apple cider, Lady Joy admits, "Oh, you almost outpaced my tongue a dozen times… If it weren't quite so funny I don't think I'd remember it even as well as I do, though!" She leans away — but to look at him, and shake her head. "You're so sweet to me… I really am pleased we met again. I suppose I oughtn't to stay any later, though — I don't know what hour it is, but I'm sure it's later than I meant," she giggles.

Madrighal giggles with her, "The sun is not yet up, so how can it be too late for drinking and laughing with a new friend over music! The night is beautiful and so are you! What hurry can their possibly be?"

The lady's eyes sparkle; but she persists. "Why," she explains in a wide-eyed whisper, "I live in the Hightower, dear Master Sand; and the only way to get in or out is by boat; and there is always, it seems, someone to note my comings and my goings… I'll have you know I'm being a very good girl, lately; and I'm giving my hosts no cause to regret offering their hospitality." Her attempt at primness is somewhat spoiled by a wink.

Madrighal must have caught the wink, as he runs a calloused fingertip along the inside of her wrist, light and teasing, "I've a friend who might be able to get me in there, on some pretext or another, if you ever need a musician to play you to sleep…"

"Have you now," giggles Lady Joy. "If I were having bad dreams, mmm?" she inquires, affecting seriousness despite the tendency of her lips to twitch with amusement. "But what if I shouldn't care for your friend to know my slumbers were so disturbed? What then? You see, it's so difficult for a lady to be sure that her business remains her own, and that the songs she hears are only for her ears… It's the Westerosi moon, you know," she points out, glancing up into the sky and nodding to that celestial body, "and not the Dornish sunshine!"

Madrighal takes her hand and lifts it again for kissing, this time turnig ut so instead of the knuckles he kisses the palm first and the the soft skin of the wrist, his breath warm, "I live at the Acacia. It is Dorne inside and what happens there stays there for the most part. If I can not visit you, you might visit me."

It's such a fair offer, so considerate, and above all so persistent — and from a truly gifted young musician, who knows moreover her daughter and her grandson and doesn't seem put off! — and what with one thing and another, her natural curiosity, her head's ease of turning, the sweet music that seems still wafting nearby, Lady Joy murmurs… "Shall I think it over, then?"

Madrighal looks up from his increasingly passionate kisses to her arm with wide, serious eyes, "I should be very honored if you did, Lady Joy."

He's growing a little fond for the open air; with one last thirsty swallow to drain the dregs from her cup, and a delicious consciousness of her own potential as a temptress, Lady Joy draws away. Her fingers sink into the folds of the Myrish lace which has been slipping all the while away from her shoulders, gathering the delicate fabric about herself as she rises.

"Perhaps I shall, then," she murmurs, though to be perfectly honest she has no more idea of the matter than he, at this hour. She only knows that it's awfully nice to be complimented and kissed. (Well, it is.) "Goodnight, Madrighal Sand, acknowledged of Toland. I hope you'll finish your new song soon, and play it for me, mmm…?" Another wink. "Somewhere or another."

Madrighal does not try to stop her leaving though his eyes caress her shoulder has his lips clearly long to do. He is too dizzy with wine and wanting to think sensibly about witnesses. "Sweetest dreams to you Lady of Joy!"

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