(123-02-06) Among the Butterflies of Starfall
Among the Butterflies of Starfall
Summary: The gardens of that castle are often delightfully ornamented by its feminine inhabitants, meeting and parting and exchanging interesting tidbits…
Date: 04-11/02/2016
Related: None really.

Lara Gargalen can be found in the gardens at the upper bailey of Starfall on this morning, strolling leisurely beside another retainer, a young woman of obvious Dornish origin and clothing, and it is not hard to tell they are chatting in quite a vibrant manner. The colorful sandsilk of their gowns adds to the scenery, Lara’s yellow and red, with ornamental embroideries about the hems, and the white and blue of her companion, when a faint breeze tears at the fabric that charms their shapely figures as they walk.

“Did he…?”, Lara inquires with a wicked glint in her hazel eyes, canting her head to one side as she offers the woman beside her a sideways glance. A line of white teeth catches a shapely lower lip, and a brow lifts in a challenging way.

“He did,” comes the giggled reply of the other, a comely lady in her early twenties, with dark, almost black hair worn in an open manner just like Lara’s that will make it an easy prey for the occasional gust of wind.

“Then, I suppose, he came to regret his courage.”, the Gargalen lady intones with a wink, eyes narrowing just so, as she straightens out the sandsilk over her front in one elegant fluid motion.

By ill fortune the broad path Lady Lara and her companion have chosen, leading to the middle of the gardens as well as branching off into elegant symmetries, echoes now beneath the crisp boot-falls of a young woman striding alone out of the Little Hall.

She is neither tall nor short. Little can be gathered of her figure, clad so boyishly in riding breeches of a heavy dark cloth, a lighter shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a black leather belt securing a knife at one hip and a whip at the other and a pouch between; but she is certainly slender, lovely, and not a day over seventeen. Just a glimpse of gleaming true-black hair may be seen beneath the blue linen veil draped about her head and shoulders to shield her clear light caramel complexion from the sun as it rises higher.

As certain as her beauty is her present state of high temper. If her heels could carve divots in the path, they would. She moves at speed — and, finding her way blocked by these two languid lady-butterflies, she inhales and utters, "Pray excuse me," just a trifle too sharply for courtesy. Her voice betrays noble birth and considerable self-assurance, yet despite her colouring it owes nothing to the airy courtyards and orange groves of Dorne.

The approaching young woman in riding attire does manage to cause Lara Gargalen to pause in her interaction with her lady companion. Hazel eyes are lifted to study the stranger, and with a fluid motion, Lara drifts to the side, sandsilk shifting about her frame. "You are welcome," she intones softly, "We didn't mean to be in your way." Smoothness there in her tone to make up for the lack of such in the other's verbal courtesy. The Cockatrice remains where she is, seeing the other already moving past them, exchanging a glance with the young lady in blue and white, before it flits back to the woman in less feminine attire, and she raises her voice as to make sure she will be heard. "You are not from these parts, my lady…?" An inquiry, and test of the other's sense of courtesy.

Another quick step, a slower one in hesitation as ingrained training wars with the need to be away from here. The young lady looks back with angry tears gleaming in her eyes and calls, “No… No, I am not.” She seems on the point of another remark; but presses her lips together, nods to the Dornish butterflies, and hurries away into the Lower Bailey.

No doubt then Lady Lara and the other have opinions to exchange.

A minute later unhurried steps bring into the sunlight Lady Ynys Trant, coming the same way, in a gown of burnt orange sandsilk trimmed with Myrish lace about its plunging but not-quite-revealing neckline. Her strong and shapely arms are bare; each of her wrists chimes with bracelets green and bronze and amber and gold; she wears her remarkable quantity of thick, black, silvering curls loose about her shoulders.

Her approach (skirts swaying, lazy smile upon her lips as though she hasn’t a care) leaves the younger ladies ample time to note the resemblance and to ponder the results of watering down Dornish blood with Westerosi, before she greets them with a low: “Good morning, Lady Lara… You look well. Will you make me known to your friend?”

And exchange of opinions do not always need words to express them, so in this case glances sufficed to convey the curiosity of both Dornish butterflies in question. When the young woman with a temper moves off, none of the two will try to stop her, but there will of course be another exchange of ominous glances.

Before attention is drawn towards the approaching Mistress of the Keys. Lara's posture straightens a little, while a charming smile blossoms on her comely features, a hand moves to push a strand of hair from her view, a gesture that conveys a subtle confidence of her looks as does the unwavering look of her eyes that will not flit down until Lady Ynys stands right before them. "Good morning, Lady Ynys," the Cockatrice intones softly, returning the greeting with said momentary downward flick of her eyes. The request has her gaze rise and then shift to her companion, who tilts her head to the side as she returns the curious look of the Trant widow with one of her own. "This is my cousin," Lara explains, her smile deepening, "Melyssa Fowler."

After Melyssa has offered the required, "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Lady Ynys,” it will still be Lara Gargalen who poses the obvious question. Hazel eyes flit pointedly in the direction in which the young woman in turmoil has vanished, before Lara's gaze returns to Ynys Trant. "Was that your daughter, the Lady Alysia?" she inquires.

“And I yours, Lady Melyssa,” murmurs Lady Ynys, her gaze lingering only an instant upon the Fowler girl thus presented to her before finding again Lady Lara. In every social situation there is a hierarchy. She hears the question; she considers it with her lips beginning to curve, as though she can imagine just what an impression must have been made, and as though rather than troubling her it provides a source of wry maternal amusement.

“So high,” she holds her smooth brown hand palm-down at the appropriate height, her golden signet gleaming, “pretty enough, and in a towering rage?” she inquires.

Melyssa smiles to Ynys Trant’s reply but prefers to remain silent for now, even if she will observe the interaction between the Mistress of Keys and the Cockatrice with quiet curiosity. While said Cockatrice cants her head to the side, hazel eyes showing off a faint sparkle as she hears the brief but effective description. “Aye,” she says, amusement in her gaze but absent in her tone, that is all politeness. “That would be her, I suppose.” Keeping any further comment to herself, at first. For a moment. Straightening, she inquires: “A lovely girl. I trust she has gotten acquainted with Lady Vynesa by now?”

Those two pairs of variously amused dark eyes meet, then, and Lady Ynys nods gravely. “Yes, they've met… and spent a little time together; but of course my daughter misses the only home she has known, her friends there, her brothers.” Lady Lara may not be able to imagine much to pine for north of the border; she makes it clear to her. “She has suffered the most upheaval of anyone of our house, in the wake of her father’s loss. I trust you’ll both,” and her eyes glint, shifting to take in Lady Melyssa as well, “afford her a certain tolerance until she has settled here, and discovered for herself the beauty of this place.”

"Oh… I understand. That must be hard for her," Lara Gargalen intones, with perhaps more empathy than Ynys Trant may have thought her capable of. "Even so," an amiable smile curves the Cockatrice's lips as she continues, "I am sure your daughter will soon learn to appreciate what Dorne has to offer." Because, how couldn't she? "Melyssa and I have not taken offence, certainly not. On the contrary, to see her this spirited, yet courteous… has only secured her our sympathies, hasn't it?" A quick sideways glance there, as the Gargalen lady meets her Fowler cousin's gaze and both smile as if on the same opinion there, a brief almost giggle escaping Melyssa even before it is bitten back and she nods eagerly to Lady Ynys: "I found Lady Alysia to be rather charming, my lady."

However pleasant the exchange, a question seems to have formed at the back of Lara Gargalen's mind, as she digests the facts given by the Mistress of Keys. "May I ask, when - and how - did your late husband - Lord Trant - die?", she inquires softly, mirth dimming in her expression as she regards Ynys with sobered curiosity.

That stifled, girlish giggle happens to meet Lady Ynys’s notice. Perhaps the sight of her demeanour cooling encourages Lady Melyssa so to swallow it — she is older, taller, of a greater rank, of a personal distinction apparent to the eye in her posture, the loft of her chin, her sculpted Yronwood features — however lightly she may carry these qualities they are all that is most depressing to the unauthorised mirth of minor young social butterflies.

“I am glad you both found her so, Lady Lara,” is her mild answer to the spokesbutterfly, “and that you have some understanding of her position… You may ask.” She draws a breath. “My husband and his brother lost their lives in saving a number of our people,” she explains smoothly, stinting detail in order to keep the tale short, dignified, unbloody, “one moon ago today.” And she herself has been vividly present at Princess Visenya’s side for no less than a fortnight, taking part in every amusement, offering light conversation and blunt counsel, never speaking of the man she lost nor shedding a tear where it might be witnessed.

The two social butterflies are more than acknowledging the authority of the Mistress of Keys, or so it seems. Melyssa Fowler seems to be content to leave the talking to Lara Gargalen though, once she has expressed her respectful praise of Ynys Trant’s daughter, while the Cockatrice stretches a little, which has the gown of red and yellow sandsilk shift over her shapely form, her chin lifting as she meets the tall and darker skinned lady’s gaze. Lara’s eyes widen when she hears the reply.

“Seven Hells,” is the rather unladylike curse that leaves the Gargalen’s lips, her gaze going distant, the expression slightly astonished. “I had no idea… I… I am sorry,” dark eyes flit down, as her hand fold loosely before her. “This must be very hard… for you both.”, Lara says then after a moment of gathering herself, as she raises her eyes once again to study Ynys Trant, with her tone having regained the smoothness from before.

Lady Ynys reviews Lady Lara’s moment of astonishment with a luminous dark gaze suggestive of depths unplumbed; and her bracelets chime softly about her wrists as she shrugs her half-bare shoulders. “It is what it is,” she states in a quiet, even tone of voice. “Princess Amarei asked this service of me in memory of the past, in hope for the future, and I agreed.” That she is now doing all she can, goes without saying among those acquainted with her rigorous inspection of Princess Visenya’s household accounts going back before her marriage, the interviews endured by every servant in the princess’s employ, the new schemes and arrangements she has instituted behind the scenes which run so smoothly one hardly notices what has been done, and the relaxed but unshakable grip she has on it all.

There is respect there, definitely, in Lara Gargalen's expression as she lowers her gaze and nods to Ynys Trant's explanation. "It is an honour, of course, and a welcome distraction of what you had to leave behind," she comments softly, a courteous remark, but not lacking in empathetic depth. "I am sure," the Cockatrice continues then, in a slightly lighter tone, "that your daughter will learn to appreciate Starfall with all its beauty. If there is anything I can do to make her stay easier, pray let me… let us know, Lady Ynys." Another sideways glance is shot towards Melyssa Fowler who inclines her head as well, murmuring a compassionate "Of course!" A charming pair of courtly butterflies, but their intention appears to be at least honorable enough.

It isn’t that Lady Lara is incorrect; but Lady Ynys doesn’t take especially kindly to having her feelings and her motives analysed in the open by anyone, let alone this man-mad Cockatrice who can’t have the least comprehension of what it’s like to be married to the same one for half a lifetime. Thus her eyes narrow by a fraction, and she keeps their talk to Lady Alysia.

“Thank you both,” she answers, “and if I should think of anything…” A speculative tilt of her head. “But I imagine Starfall will do its own work. My daughter rides every morning when it is cool, in this country we know to be among Dorne’s most beautiful; her uncle Elyas made her a gift of a fine new falcon I can see she loves, no matter what she might tell you of the superior qualities of the bird she left at home; Lady Vynesa has been kindness itself and they have visited the sept twice together to pray. She has all she needs to be happier, I think, when her heart is quieter and she can allow herself to look outward.”

Looking outward, it seems, is Lady Ynys’s remedy for ailments of the heart; though she has been spending long hours lately in Starfall’s still-room, perhaps concocting others.

Even if said Cockatrice may be aware of that slightly skeptical look from Ynys Trant, and her focusing on the subject of Lady Alysia alone, there is nothing more forthcoming in reaction than the fine smile curving her lips. “Of course,” Lara agrees to Starfall eventually providing enough distraction for a young woman such as Alysia. “The scenery is particularly impressive. I should actually go for a ride as well more often,” a slow blink there of her eyes, “I have actually missed such activities while in Oldtown.” Just, which activities may she refer to? At the mention of prayers she lowers her gaze, faint amusement there in her smile, but even so, Lara Gargalen takes care not to show any disrespect to the Mistress of Keys.

Lady Ynys lifts an eyebrow at this unexpected confession of other interests. “Perhaps you and I might go out riding one day soon,” she suggests idly, “on an occasion when the princess can spare us both… I’ll bear it in mind, Lady Lara. Good day to you both.”

Her gaze roams to Lady Melyssa long enough to nod to her; and then Lady Lara receives a like courtesy; and the last traces of her smile fade as she turns away along the same path Lady Alysia took. Mother and daughter look alike from behind, despite the differences in their garb: two tall, dark, proud Yronwood women, coming to terms with this place and obliging it likewise to make terms with them.

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