36 Alasair, 288: A Princess and a Knight

A Princess and a Knight
Summary: Roslin and Lorcan meet for the first time, and enjoy a bit of courtly gossip.
OOC Date: 23/09/2013
Related: None
Players:
Roslin Lorcan 
Game Room
Games and such.
Alasair 36, 228

The Game Room is one of the busiest spots in the evening - after meals have been completed, it is not unusual for men and women alike to retire here for a hand of cards, a round of chess, or a set of darts. But during the day, it is a different story. It is near-on empty, with only a few ladies and the occasional old man filling the space. In addition to this smattering of people, however, is a set of guards wearing Kilgour arms, a quiet young maid sitting against the wall, and a redheaded Princess bent over a chess table, moving both black and white pieces as she studies the board. The woman is wearing a long-sleeved gown of late-summer green, a gold-and-leather belt hanging low on her waist to accentuate her budding female figure. She wears her hair, as she is wont to do, piled high in a crown of braids. As expected, the woman is decorated with a gold necklace, gold earrings, and a few rings on her fingers.

Perhaps ten feet from the gaggle of maids, and guardsmen attending the fair Princess, a smaller group stands some five feet from a dart board: an aged graybeard, a boy, scarce old enough to be a squire, albeit too old to serve as a page, the last of their number is a tall wiry forester, by the look of him. The man is arrayed in a steel blue jerkin, and trousers of a deeper slate gray. His only accession to ornamentation is the steel cloak pin-a simple metal disk set with a seven small sapphires round the edge of the disk. His sword is a palin thing wrapped in sweat-stained leather. A days’ growth clings to his chin. The forester draws a dart back and throws, the projectile hitting just beyond the outermost ring. The boy spares the forester a toothy smirk. He is very young, indeed, his voice has yet to change.
“A fine shot you are brother.”
The graybeard spares the boy a cold look and clears his throat. “-Sir Lorcan-, Master Sean.”
The boy rolls his eyes and lifts three darts from the table, then proceeds to place two beside the bullseye and the last of their number just at the edge of the innermost ring. Knight and valet stare on in amaze-then the forester catches something out of the corner of his eye, he turns and drops into a low bow, valet and squires follow their master.
“Your highness.” His tone is grave, his bow deep albeit not so deep as to seem obsequious.

Roslin does lift her head from the board a little to enjoy the banter of the men nearby. Perhaps she anticipates being addressed from the moment the ruckus started. Perhaps not. Either way, when Lorcan does greet her, she is already sitting straight-backed with a high head of a pose and posture that nearly screams royalty. She returns the greeting in kind, giving her head a slight nod in his direction. “Sir Lorcan,” she says, her voice soft and her words well-articulated. “Do not be terribly disheartened, if I may say,” she says, smiling a slight mischievous little smile as she peers to the board. “I’ve found myself bested here quite a few times by surprising opponents - such games are great equalizers between Lord and servant, I have found.” She gives the man an encouraging smile.

The knight spares his squire a sidewise glance from his kneeling position, then rises in one smooth movement. The boy favors his brother with another, broad toothy smile, a grin that takes in the whole of the gathering. Lorcan turns from the boy and nods to Roslin. “As you say, your highness.”
Alistair, once servant to Sir Errol, of beloved memory, once servant to the knight of Moncreiffe before Errol nods at the Princesses words. “Her highness is wise, Sir, also if I may say young master Sean’s aptitude at darts might be the god’s attempt to maintain the humility of his master.” Lorcan’s head turns hard to his left. He spares the valet a dirk-slim smile. “Have I need of -more- humility, Alistair?” His smile broadens and there is a subtle hint of mirth in his rejoinder. Turning then, to the Princess, Lorcan stares at her for a brief instant. “I have found tourney blades a great equalizer, your highness, two days ago, your brother and I took a tourney. He is quite puissant, but I had the better of him.”
Here, Alistair clears his throat, sharply.
Lorcan glances toward Alistair, then to Roslin. “Or rather, the gods favored me with victory, your highness.”

Roslin smirks, moving to rise. Every move she makes is graceful and easy, the result of a woman who has been raised since birth to be schooled in the arts of grace. Her skirts rustle about her as she moves, but falls directly into place as soon as she’s standing. She has that same mischevious little smile on her features as she walks over to the men, looking up at them - she is rather small. “It is my experience that all men are usually in need of some humility,” the Princess says. “I thank you and the Gods for bringing some to my brother, and praise their wisdom for seeing that you, in turn, were brought some yourself.” Her words, delivered in an easy and measured tone, none the less have the slight tint of playfulness to them - it is clear the girl means no insult. She walks past the men, looking over the darts in the board. “Or perhaps it is the Gods’ way of saying that the boy ought to be trained in the archery arts.” She turns to face the men again. “I confess to know little of them myself, but have been impressed by the Count of Greenshire and his ability to move sharp projectiles to where he wishes them to be, either by bow or by hand. I tend to trust the Greenshire people on such matters.”

Lorcan turns to the boy. “What say you, brother? Perhaps the gods intend for you to ascend to the office of Royal Huntsman?” The knight’s aged valet nods with approval, but directs a look to Sean, as if to say ‘Some more than others, your highness.’ Lorcan spares the boy a measuring look, then turns to Roslin. “He has the arms for it. Mayhaps he shall grow to be tall enough to draw longbow, your highness.” A look to the window of the game room, and the castle grounds beyond. “Mobrin will have need of good archers. Count Aldren is one of the finest archers I have seen, your highness.” The last is spoken in a measuring tone-not grudging, but possessive of some specimen of tension.
“I have heard there shall be a tourney in two days. I have heard many great knights shall take the field. Perhaps even the Rioga. It will be a welcome diversion with the Laniveer hosts sailing north.”

“I hope such excersizes will prove not to be simply a diversion, but an opportunity for our city and country’s finest to hone their skills and prepare for the day soon when it is a Laniveer skull they are shoving a spear through,” The Princess’ words may seem shocking, but they are delivered with the same measured tone as all her other words, both sweet and sour. “Are you closely aquainted with Count Aldren, Sir? My entire family is well-aquainted with his sister, and himself by extension. Though I have had the opportunity to witness his prowess with a bow, and I am eager as well to see that the men under his command have the same skill. When they arrive, I intend to ride out with him to view the troops and their drills.” For a moment, Roslin seems at ease. But then, some thought or another occurs to her, and she is quick to add - “Such a viewing would, I am sure, put me at ease about the coming days. Thank you.” The last part is said for a servant, who has brought what appears to be chilled cider for the Princess to enjoy. Naturally, there is enough for her guests. Roslin moves to sit in her seat again as she enjoys the first sip.

The boy, Sean, stares at Roslin-his eyes widen and becoming dazzled, bright despite their hereto dark chestnut pigment. Lorcan and Alistair stare on, and when the Princess as spoken, both men nod with approbation. Alistair nods twice. “Well said, your highness.” Lorcan remains silent, considering the last, for a moment.
“Count Aldren has said some five hundred of his men march to Darfield. I am acquainted with the Count, your grace. We sparred two days past before I tried your royal brother.” A pause. “I was also the late Count’s ward from my eighth year until I turned seventeen, your highness. I am acquainted with the Count, Lord Braedon, and their sister, the Baroness.” The last is relayed in an even tone.
The boy, knight, and vallet nod to the servant and take chilled cider from off the tray tendered by the castle servant. “Aldren was a fine youth, when I knew him, as a boy. I have heard he is a fine lord, your highness.”

Roslin gently cradles the goblet between her two hands in front of her, eyes drawn upward to the men. “I am so very glad that you do not find yourself alone at court, Sir Lorcan. I have heard it is always helpful to have some aquainteces when one is newly arrived.” She gestures with a hand, a simple nondescript motion. “Sit, then, sir - tell me what has brought you to Stormvale. Are you here for the upcomming battles, to fight with my brother Tyrel?” At the mention of sitting, the guards move easily into action, setting out a few chairs for the man and his enteroge.

Lorcan favors the Princess with a sardonic half-smile. “I am rather glad the Count’s welcome was warm, your highness.” Alistair does not clear his throat, but rather, sets one aged hand upon the knight’s shoulder. “Which is to say I was quite fond of Aldren, as a boy, your highness.” Squire, knight, and vallet wait for the Princess to take a chair, then seat themselves on chairs and divans. “If the Crown Prince has need of men, I am his, your grace.” Lorcan inclines his head toward Roslin in a nod. “In whatever capacity.” Lorcan direct another look toward the window, the castle grounds, and the city beyond the walls. “The armies of Laniveer are vast-I wager the lords of Mobrin may have need of every boy who can heft a pike, and every crone who can dress a wound before the Prince’s armies fire the last of their ships.” Again, the valet places a hand upon the knight’s shoulder. Lorcan turns to the Princess. “Pardon me your grace, it seems I have been in the hedges overly long, as my suffering valet oft reminds me.”

“A soldier’s perspective on such matters is quite welcomed,” Roslin assures the man with a smile. “But in truth I shall disagree with you - or attempt to. I am, after all, only a young girl and I do not know much of these things, but from what I have discussed with my dear and most beloved brother, the Laniveer shall be met at each opportunity and making the best use of Mobrin resources and the terrain. This is our land, Sir, and we know it far better than any invader ever could. They learned that when they tried to invade us already, and we threw them back.” The woman takes another sip of her cider, enjoying the flavor. “Still, I am sure my brother will be grateful to know that he has another strong knight upon whom he may lay his faith in the coming days. If you wish to prepare even more beforehand, you may speak with the Captain of the City Guard to see how the city’s defenses are preparing. Though I daresay we shall meet the enemy long before they stumble across our walls.”

Lorcan listens, an intent, measuring look upon his face. “A lord who possesses said advantages may bleed an invader dry, your highness has been tutored in strategy and tactics.” The last is related in a tone of mild surprise. “Westgate. A bloody affair. They arrived hungry for blood and spoils-but we were hungrier, your highness.” At the last, squire and vallet direct heavy, troubled stares at the knight. At the last, Lorcan nods. “I shall seek out Captain Laine and offer him whatever assistance I may, your highness.”
Lorcan upends his goblet draining half of the cider, the potent drink alights his face-flushing his ruddy skin. “I have heard the royal smiths have wrought a new crown, your highness. Some say yours is the fair brow that shall bear said artifice, your highness.”

Roslin’s cheeks also turn a color, though judging on the timing of the change it is not from the cider. Instead, she turns pink just after the man’s comments of the crown. “Who is it that says that, Sir?” She asks, partially amused and partially surprised. “Perhaps you forget that my father still lives and is young and strong, and I have three brothers. Why and for whom this new crown has been forged I am sure I cannot say,” Can’t or won’t, perhaps. “But the thought that a crown may ever rest on my head is … quite difficult to believe.” She finishes her own cider, nodding for more. That mischevious smirk has crossed her face once again. “Tell me, good Sir - what do you believe to be the nature of this new crown to be? What is it you have heard people saying about this event? What is believed to be the cause behind all of this?”

The hedge knight observes Roslin’s expression, while she speaks, the measuring look never departing from his countenance. Perhaps he related the wildest bit of gossip merely to gauge her reaction, her her rejoinder, or hear the fair Princess refute the wild bit of street gossip. “Two fine swordsmen, and the eldest a commander of men, your highness.” At Roslin’s question, Lorcan drains his cup, and motions for another. “I have yet to arrive at a conclusion, your grace. As to what the people of your realm believe, the gossip ranges from learned inferences to wild suppositions. “Some say that good King Calem will name his sister’s son Caedmon regent, some same Tyrel. Others say that your father intends name Logen’s wife Princess Consort.” Lorcan cannot refrain from a second dirk-slim smile at the last.

Roslin listens, her face smooth and collected. At least, until the last few words spoken by the knight. Even she cannot keep her face impassive then, and she suddenly erupts in a fit of girlish giggles - showing her young age indeed in a brief moment. A hand comes up to cover her mouth and stiffle the sound, and after a few seconds the Princess has regained control of herself, though the smile still remains. “Some of those are … quite apt predictions,” Roslin confides. “But regency does not require a crown. I confess that father’s announcement will be spectacular, and quite worthy of attendance - whatever the results of it may be.” The woman sips her cup again, finally losing the last signs of the giggles around her lips. “And I am most pleased that you have not given yourself over to some of the things being said - some of these predictions are quite fanatical.”

Sean’s eyes become impossibly large when the fair Princess of Kilgour falls into a fit of maidenly laughter. Alistair looks a bit uneasy, and the knight, Sir Lorcan-his smile widens, measurably. “I shan’t miss it, your highness; your father’s announcement comes at an opportune time. A grand, royal event will solidify the smallfolks’ resolve to fight and resist their would be invaders.” At the last, Lorcan directs a pointed look to Alistair. “Despite Alistair’s assertions to the contrary I am not as frivolous as the boy I was, your highness. Your aptitude for politics, war, and strategy speaks to a fitness for rule, your highness. Few maidens, and fewer youths possesses an aptitude for one of the three; or anything akin to manly or matronly wit. Gods know I was rash, and frivolous at that age.”

Roslin tilts her head a little to the side at the discussion and smiles a soft smile. “Your praise is well-given, Sir Lorcan, and I am exceptionally grateful for it.” No doubt, royals are always being heaped with praise, and yet Roslin seems quite pleased all the same. “I have the Kincaid family to thank for much of that. I spent the last year with them at Lakeshire, making a study of trade and economics. That, I know, has certainly helped calm my childish instincts. And of course, my beloved Mother. Any child with such a paragon of virtue and peace and sensibility to guide them shall surely find their way to piety and usefulness.” Of course, it is well-known that several of Roslin’s siblings have not become pious or useful, but Roslin seems not to address that for the moment. “As for ruling, I wish only to do my duty, and that is to see that I serve my family and the Gods faithfully and that I am rewarded with a husband whose family and mine shall build strong, everlasting ties through our union.” She pauses a moment, looking past the knight. “Tell me, Sir Lorcan - does your …brother, is it? Master Sean? Does he take after your rashness at his age?” She smiles, curiously, to the young boy.

“I have heard the Kincaids are dutiful and leal servants of your royal father.” Lorcan’s brow knits. “It is said Lakeshire’s smiths are the finest in all your father’s realm, twood seem their scholars are apt tutors, too. Many lords, indeed many matrons, contend that the study of war is a man’s domain-but a great many maidens and matrons-perchance even a princess, or two, have donned the raiment of war to lead their brothers’, or husband’s armies in the defense of their seats when the former were away at war. Availing maidens of tutelage in the bellicose arenas of learning is not merely forward-thinking, it is a matter the only prudent course.” Lorcan stares at Roslin for a moment, gauging her reaction. “your highness.” He adds.
Alistair stands taught through the whole of the monologue, and relaxes, only somewhat when his knight appends his words with sign of respect and deference.
At Roslin’s last, Sean retreats a step, the valet places a hand upon his shoulder, halting the boy. He stares as the Princess, his ears turning a deep crimson. The corners of Lorcan’s lips turn upward into a knowing smile. “Sean is half-again as rash, and twice as cunning, your highness. On the road to Darfield, an innkeep’s goodwife complained to her patrons over a stolen blackberry pie. Alistair discovered the culprit only after Sean became sick upon the road the following morning.” At this, the boy’s cheeks turn crimson too, Alistair holds the squirming boy’s shoulder with one strong, albeit aged hand, less he should try to run before the anecdote is at an end.
“We turned about and made back for the inn, as soon as Sean’s regurgitation was at an end, he worked the custom off by mucking out the innkeep’s stables. I have to applaud him, when I was a boy at Greenshire, I purloined pastries aplenty, but I never had the braggadocio to steal a pie, entire, let alone consume the evidence in a single night. The boy must have a hollow shank.”

Roslin shakes her head a little at the knight. “I would not have it said, Sir, that I endeavor to promote or mirror such behavior as you have described. Women do not belong with the men at battle. You shalln’t ever hear me say otherwise. If you wish to know a true strategist, you should know my brother Tyrel. I only have learned what little I can in order to provide him with some small assistance in these great matters, and I am sure I am not needed for such things when I have so many brothers around me. But I am a younger sister, so I strive to find ways to make myself as useful as I may. And if I may in some small part help my brother and his mail fist of men to bloody the Laniveer more, it is right that I should do so.” She bows her head in a display of humility, raising it again to hear the story of Sean’s mischief. It brings a playful smile to the redhead’s lips. “I think perhaps it fortells of a young man who will grow great and strong quite soon, this tale. Though I must say,” the Princess looks back to Sean, leaning forward just a little. “I must discourage theft in the kingdom of my father, lest you be brought before me or him, Master Sean.” Of course, it is highly unlikely that the boy would ever be so brought, and from Roslin’s soft tone and mischevious smile, this is likely apparent to the adults. She sits back in her chair again, after the little threat to keep the boy in line is made. “Yes, the Kincaids are a good and noble family, one of the most noble in Mobrin. They have sent their eldest son and heir, Lord Hadrian, to serve in my father’s court. I do hope you have the opportunity to make his aquaintence. He is a most clever man, and far more forthright than even you are, good knight. I think perhaps you would be able to enjoy each other’s company.” The woman finishes her second cup of cider, but waves off a third. “Sir Lorcan, do you intend to stay in the city until the men march out to war?”

“I do not wish to summon morbid thoughts from the ether your highness, but …” The knight’s brows knit. “I pray good King Callem has fifty more years, and your brothers live to drink to their health at ninety winters, and say no more of it.”
Sean’s face is positively scarlet, he squirms once, and looks at Alistair’s knotty old valet’s. He stares at it, after the manner of a young rat caught in a snare-and by the looks of him, his discomfort, and embarrassment he gives the notion of gnawing off Alistair’s hands, after the manner young rats gnaw off their own limbs, due consideration. Alistair’s hand lightens upon his shoulder after the fair Princess finishes her mischievous admonishment and the boy darts off, sparing Roslin a backward look just in time to nearly bowl over a liveried servant carrying seven bowls of fish chowder. “Look lively, Master Sean!” Alistair’s words save the servant and the squire from a messy collision.
Lorcan turns to the Princess and bows deeply, constraining a gale of laughter with the centermost knuckle of his right fist planted upon his lips. “I have been called many things by many men your highness, though forthright. I am honored, your highness.” Roslin’s question engenders a moment of silence. “I intend to remain in the city and tender what aid I may until the trumpets calls us to war, your grace.”

“It is true my father has been ill previously,” Roslin admits, though she is sharing no state secrets. The man’s health deteriorated to the point where Tyrel had acted as King quite recently. “But I can say he has recovered and is as strong as ever, stronger than most people know. I hope soon he shall let it be known how very strong he is.” Whatever that might mean, Roslin doesn’t say - she just smiles and watches as the young Master Sean flees from her presence, illiciting another series of giggles from her highness. “At any rate, there is no man in Mobrin or any other Kingdom that is near as strong as my brother Tyrel. May the Gods bless us, his reign will be long and prosperous, of that I have no doubt.” She lowers her head a moment, making sure the Gods understand that these words are a quiet little prayer on behalf of her brother and her kingdom. When her head rises, the Princess nods to her maid, who also stands. The guards clap to attention. “My family shall be eternally grateful for you and brave knights like you, good Sir, who come forth seeking to slay our enemies. I bless you for your loyalty.” She nods to him, a sign that the Princess will be departing.

Vallet and Knight are intent and quiescent as the Princess speaks. When Roslin makes mention of Callem’s age, he knight cups his chin with thumb and forefinger and directs a look to his aged valet. Six and forty is not so old as Alistair’s advanced age, but few men can claim to live to six and forty, fewer still can claim to live over sixty winters after the manner of Alistair. Although, the knight’s thoughts regarding aging and death remain his own. He turns to Roslin and nods solemnly. “I pray your royal father’s health continues to improve, your highness-your royal brother will be a fine king.” Perchance even a great king. Though he says naught but measures the princess's words with the same weighty gaze. “My father and his fathers have served the Kilgour Royals since the fall of the fall of the Manghem dynasty your highness-I hope my line shall be leal servants of the Kilgours for another three centuries.”
Vallet and Knight rise, in unison, though the former is more laggardly in his ascent. Lorcan and Alistair bow to Roslin, thence to each of her ladies, according to their rank.

“I shall hold you to your words, Sir Knight,” Roslin says with a smile, nodding her head once more to him. With that, the woman turns and moves past the men toward the door, a guard before and after her, her maid just behind her. Everyone else in the room rises as she leaves, bowing or curtsying respectfully until the Princess is gone in a whisper of fabric and footfalls, leaving the room a little more empty.

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