Inouv 21, 228: A Sutherland-Kundari Breed

A Sutherland-Kundari Breed
Summary: Ronan introduces Nima to his horse Alanzo, a Sutherland Kundari breed
OOC Date: 10/December/2013 (OOC)
Related: None
Nima Ronan Kierne Syri 
From the Herb Garden to the Courtyard
(Herb Garden:)The aroma of multiple herbs infuses through the entire garden. It's not a large area, but it is full of herbs for both cooking and healing uses. The little square is big enough to have a bench in the middle, as well as several paths to get to each of the small areas where plants grow. Half has been set up to get the sunshine, while the other half has a canopy overhead, providing for those plants that prefer shade. Thyme, marjoram, chives, oregano, garlic, lavender, feverfew, coriander, yellowflower (saint john's wort) and sage are just some of the spices and herbs that have been planted and are well cared for here.
(Courtyard:)Above you to the north, a silhouette against the sky, is the Castle, set on the side of an immense cliff overlooking the sea. A road leading to the south leads through the gatehouse and to Darfield Village. In between is the courtyard, a fairly large space that is kept neat at all times. Against the walls to the east, there are storage buildings, a stable, the dog kennel, and the mews. To the west, the kitchen, garden, and smithy, as well as their storage area and barracks for those who guard the castle. There is an area of the courtyard often used for training purposes by the knights and men-at-arms. The squires are often at work setting up or taking down practice targets and the like.
Inouv 21, 228

The days have been cold, windy when not snowy. So the lull early this afternoon is a nice change. A brief respite in that the sun is out and it's almost warm. The snow is melting though there is more than a single day of warmth will dissipate. Still, the herb garden is planted in the lee of the bulk of the castle and thusly protected from the worst of the wind, has less snow. The morning sun has warmed the space and the stones to reflect the sun's thin heat. Soon the sun will swing around and the shadows will lengthen, but for the moment the small garden is a very pleasant place.

Ronan has come out here to stroll quietly and think. He will go soon to find other men against whom he will spar and work out against for a few hours as he does most days, staying fit. Else the winter confinement might chafe. The Sutherland Duke wears clothing in hues of browns and golds trimmed with black instead of his more usual House Crawford colors. A thick cloak has been removed so that he might feel the fleeting warmth upon his shoulders.

Kierne has momentarily departed to go and check on their horses. He left Ronan's cloak laid over the single bench so that for the present, the Duke is a lone with his thoughts. A small bird flits through the garden, chirping and scolding the man.

With the view from her room, Nima had taken in the sun and felt the warmth on her cheeks from it. It had reminded her so much of home, she had gathered Syri, her maid, and left her chambers with a single guard following behind. Her steps are swift, yet mostly silent, so used to treading lightly in the sands of home, and she wears red and gold instead of her colors of her House.

Immediately upon leaving her room, she had decided to find a garden that had been cleared of snow and Elly, with Nima in tow, had discovered the herb garden once upon a time. It is there she intends to go, through the kitchens where she hesitates and kisses the elderly cooks wrinkled cheek. "Thank you," she tells the woman as a small skin of wine is offered.

Out the doors, she finally steps into the sunlight, and thinking herself alone, other than the two making up her entourage, she closes those light, light blue eyes and tips her head back, soaking in the brightness, feeling the warmth on her face. "So beautiful!" The exclamation is spoken softly yet with excitement, yet her accent is dominant. A slight nudge by her maid brings her attention back and she opens her eyes, looking to the lady with an inquisitive smile. "What is it, Syri?" Only then is Ronan pointed out and the maid is dipping into a curtsy and Nima is doing the say. "Sir Crawford." Dipping her head. "Forgive me for interrupting, please."

The sound of happy female voices, not raised and loud but soft, pauses his steps. Ronan turns to see who has come and is surprised a little. He removes his hands from behind himself and bows slightly, "Good afternoon, Princess, Mistress. I see … the sun has brought you out as well? You are no interruption. It was, I confess, you whom was upon my thoughts." He makes a gesture to indicate the garden, "You are welcome to enjoy the garden for yourselves. I do not claim dominion of it."

Quieting and somewhat more relaxed than his brusque self upon their prior meeting, the Rioga Duke watches the two women and their guard. In one of his large hands Ronan carries a sprig of something, a piece of winter rosemary though for the moment he has forgotten it.

Facing him now, Nima rises, straightening, and regards him with unabashed curiosity, this man who was an enigma to her. Having met him only a few times, he was still a mystery. From brusque to sharing his space, to holding a rosemary sprig and enjoying a garden. "Good afternoon! I admit I am surprised to find you here, yet it makes me wonder why a surprise when I know so little about you to make such an assumption." The words are more self depreciating than anything, perhaps a gentle reminder not to judge.

Once again, she is surprised. "I was upon your thoughts, Your Grace?" Lowering her eyes, she looks throughout the garden as her maid and guard remain silent, the guard standing at attention at the doorway out and Syri only a step or two away. "Thank you for sharing the garden with me, I find the scents of the herbs to be a lovely welcome."

Ronan isn't sure how to answer her so he's quiet a moment. He turns the sprig idly between his fingers, his other hand having hooked his thumb into his arming belt near the hilt of his sword, "Like you, I am accustomed to warmer weather and sunnier skies. In the south, we do not get snow .. though sometimes it may rain for days. I suspect you are accustomed to a great deal more sun and heat?"

A pause and he nods, keeping his voice low, "I'm thinking a great deal about alliances right now, trying to decide what the best course might be. What other options there are …" Ronan trails off and when he is about to let the rosemary fall from his fingers to the ground, he instead offers it to her as he once had to someone else in this very garden. "It … might not be a bad alliance. Both of our Houses would get what we need. You might like it in the south, Princess Nima."

Well, he's trying to be civil, and maybe learn something of her. He asks, "Do you ride?"

The fragrant garden smells of rosemary, thyme, many different scents, though the slight crisp to the air is what is more dominant at the moment. Interested in the southern lands he speaks of, Nima listens with a slightly wistful expression as he relays the differences in his house and this one. "I admit at first, the snow was a lovely oddity, something I had never seen before. Now, as the time passes, it seems more a nuisance as it covers the grounds and the gardens, ceasing work and progress, I suppose. The beauty is unsurpassed though, much like looking over the desert sands where everything is equal. There are no nuances of differences in colors such as grass and trees, dirt and leaves. I found on my recent journey to Jadda, the variations of color were breathtaking."

The direct question is answered with a warm smile. "Sun and heat, yes, though the nights get cooler than you may imagine. Where the desert is lacking in colors, it makes up for with the varying extremes of weather." At the offer of the sprig of rosemary, heat rises softly into her cheeks and she reaches for it, accepting it with an almost wistful smile as she lifts it to inhale the scent. "Thank you," she speaks just as quietly, as if it were the most beautiful of flowers. Looking up once more, at him, the curious look remains. "It could possibly be a very good alliance, Your Grace, though I do understand if there are things that make you hesitate."

His gaze had drifted as she spoke but Nima's last words bring his focus back to her. Ronan thins his mouth, his hands once more clasped loosely behind his back. "I was wroth with the King when he put the subject to me. I thought it insult to my House. Particularly … in light of recent history and death of my kin." Almost, almost the Sutherland Rioga scowls, his eyes hardening at memory of his anger. His hand behind his back starts to close into a fist but Ronan draws a slow breath, "Others … assure me it is not so. But he tests me. The King said that /you/ showed him greater loyalty than he expected, Princess. When he was very ill, he said you could easily have seen to his demise. But you did not. He spoke well of you."

A shift of his jaw. Ronan slightly turns and takes a few idle steps slowly, "It is not my intention to be unkind and rude unto you. I am well aware that you yourself have had no hand in the death's of my kin. Yet it is not an easy thing for me to forget, or forgive."

Having been watching him, Nima notices the thinning of his mouth and regrets the subject being brought up by her. Since she had been the one to address it, she forces herself to continue watching him as he speaks of his unhappiness. The whole change in him is palpable, even beyond the hardening of his eyes. She can hear it in his words. Therefore, the surprise is all encompassing when he switches it up again and speaks of the king speaking favorable words of her. "I know there are no words I could offer to make up for the disservice," she visibly winces at the total lack of description that word gives, "to you and your family. All I can offer you is an apology for the ignorance of my people in the past."

Nima holds her composure through his unhappiness and when he steps away, she does not crowd him or follow. "Truly, Your Grace, I understand your grief and could never hope for your forgiveness, but I could hopefully request your tolerance for my presence in the future."

Ronan 's steps stop after he's only taken three or four. He half turns back to look at her, "Your presance hasn't been any difficulty, Princess. I can't say that your kin would find much welcome in Sutherland, however." The Duke looks over the garden, still keeping his voice quieter. "I have a keep to rebuild and I need an heir. I can't at this time even offer a bride a decent home." He shrugs, "It does not matter. We rebuild and I believe it was the Laniveer who wrecked the havok most upon my House. I do not believe, from what I have been told by many, that the Kundari are normally very apt seaman. Not without help. So, as you have said, we have a common enemy."

A faint lift of his chin, "Walk with me? I asked if you ride but you did not say? Or are you a woman who rides in carriages?"

Intrigued by the different emotions it seems he is possibly battling, in her own opinion anyway, Nima closes the distance between them, her movements holding a natural grace, the regal bearing innate. "Thank you, Your Grace." Once at his side, she looks down at the rosemary in her hand and nods solemnly, trailing a fingertip over the sprig. "If there is anything I can do to make your decision easier, or to assist in the rebuilding if you opt not to choose me for your alliance, I would still do all I could, offer my entourage of advisors even, to aid you. The camels will pull heavy loads and you can have use of them."

Nima realizes she had forgotten to answer. "Oh, yes, Your Grace, I do ride. A camel, a horse, a mule." Involuntarily, her lips curve into a smile. "And even a carriage. I prefer a horse."

That stops him. Ronan looks at her quizzicly, "You … would ride a mule?" As if that seemed absurb and undignified for a noble woman. "Forgive my ignorance, but what -is- a camel?" The Sutherlander hasn't the faintest idea. Apparently an animal? Not then a kind of wagon or ship. "A .. yes. A horse would suit you best and I'm glad to hear it. Sutherland has plenty of fine horses, but you know that."

He really is trying to behave and give this a chance. However unpalatable the idea is. "How long do you think it will take for your father to make reply concerning your dowery? It is a long way to your lands for a rider. Unless you use message birds as we do?"

"I would ride a mule, should the circumstances warrant it. They are a good pack animal and they work hard. Would you discredit them on their name or their looks alone? Or perhaps their reputation?" Nima does seem amused at the look he gives, ducking her head to hide the upward curve of her lips. Too late though, it had shown, softening her features further. "A camel is large, a yellow white color and they have humps in their back. They ride longer and further before requiring water. I would take you to the area designated for foreigners animals to show you. I will even gift you with one, should you accept. Perhaps you would show me your horse. I have heard only good things about Sutherland horses. Even since my arrival here."

As he questions about the agreement, Nima offers her reassurances. "It should be any time now. We also use birds and Syri is very adept at sending and receiving the messages herself. The letter was sent the very night you spoke in the Kundari Suite and should be very soon. You will know immediately upon our own knowledge."

"Very good. I expected it might easily be a month or more, otherwise." The Crawford lifts a brow, "I have never seen such a beast. I would be interested in seeing one, and of course you may see Sutherland horses, your Highness. My stallion is in the stables - for the heavy snows make pasturage difficult for them to reach. Elsewise I would not pen him more than I must. A horse is meant to run." Ronan eyes the position of the sun to check the time, "The day is yet fair, if you wish to see him now. I will ask my squire to bring him out into the light for you?"

"It will be soon. My father seems to be as eager for an ally as the King is." Nima muses, twirling the rosemary she continues to hold. "I would like to show you the camel, for it is native of my land. He.." There is a slight hesitation before a genuine grin finds its way across her features. "He discharges.. from his mouth." He spits, but that is just not something a Princess says! "It is better to avoid the front and stand at its side."

An eager nod follows his request. "Would you show me? I would be honored to see your horse. What is his name?" S

His cloak collected, Ronan spreads it over his shoulders and leads the way to the courtyard with a long, brisk stride - which he shortens up when he realizes he's about to leave the women behind. His spurs chime softly with his strides and it's clear though he is trying to be reserved, horses are something he cares about. When they reach the courtyard, Kierne is outside of the stables speaking with a groom and using the better light to oil a leather bridle against the winter cold. He looks up at the sound of spurs, and leaving his work, picks up his pace to jog on out and see what is needed, "My Lord?" Oh wait, it's that woman. The youth stops and bows, "Your Highness."

"Kierne, good lad. Go fetch my stallion and bring him out. Trot him about so that the Princess Nima and her handmaiden may see him at his paces, won't you?" The Kincaid squire nods, "Of course, Sir!" Kierine turns and trots back to the stables to see to it at once. Ronan hooks his thumbs loosely into his belt, "His name is Alanza, which means Ready for Battle."

In a moment the sound of a horse's iron shod hooves can be heard before the horse himself can be seen. Kierne leads out the dappled grey stallion and before he might start handling the horse, the stallion starts to pull and dance around the young man, pleased and excited to be out in the sunlight. His neck arches and almost at once he looks to be a bit more than Kierne can handle. Ronan at once leaves Nima's side to go forward, "Here, give me his lead."

<FS3> Ronan rolls Horsemanship: Good Success.

Her own cloak is around her shoulders, a small lining of fur added upon the suggestion from Princess Roslin. Quite unused to having to wear such thick clothing and materials, Nima had been freezing before the added insulation. Her own stride is nowhere near enough to keep her even and she flashes him a grateful smile as he slows his pace for her. Walking at his side as they close the distance, her sari lightly touches the ground. Upon coming to the squire, Nima bows her head respectfully for the nobleman, as Syri dips into a curtsy. Syri has the same coloring as Nima, though her eyes are as dark as her hair where Nima's are the lightest blue.

With the orders given from Ronan to the squire, Nima waits expectantly for the display, sensing it to be a treat she was about to receive. "Alanza," she echoes softly, testing it out, finding it fits well on the tongue. Only when the animal is brought out does she realize how amazingly accurate his name would be for him. A sharp inhalation of her breath as the regal animal is shown off, delight in her eyes even as he shows his spirit. "Oh, Your Grace, he is incredible!" As Ronan leaves her side to approach his horse, she suddenly wishes she had an apple or a carrot to offer. Awed by his handling, she smiles her approval.

"His sire's name is Alarico, which means Ruler. He is retired to stud." Ronan takes the lead and the young stallion wants none of it, pulling, shaking his head and then half rearing to strike out with his front hooves, nostrels blowing. Dark eyes are bright, his ears back slightly. Kierne gets out of the way and probably could handle him well enough with a little effort since he's handled the horse many times. But Ronan moves easily, focused on the stallion and twirls the end of the long lead to get the horse's attention, giving just enough slack to let the stallion move around but not let him get his way. The horse's head comes up a fraction, his ears to prick and he side steps away from the lead the Rioga knight swings from his left hand.

A subtle shift of the loose end of the lead flicked towards the stallion's back end but no where near to touching it sets the stallion to trot quickly around in a circle. If Nima knows her horses well, she might detect what seems to be Kundari breeding in the horse. But surely that slight dip in his face, that higher set tail and slightly more slender build that is typical of Mobrin knightly horses couldn't be from Kundari stock, no. Yet the stallion is also grey, a color Kundari desert horses are more often than most any other.

The Duke handles him well and once he's run the stallion around a bit, hooves making a clatter, Ronan slackens the lead nad waits with a beckoning hand, standing at an angle to the stallion. After a moment paused, Alanzo dips is head and walks forward cautiously to wuffle softly at the glove. Ronan stokes Alanzo's face and neck and looks to Nima.

"Thank you. I have trained him myself, though he's not fully mature. A few more years to season him and he'll be just right. Of all my horses, he is among my favourites. You may pet him, if you approach slowly and let him watch you."

Nima gasps at the reaction of the horse, the hand not holding the gift of the rosemary comes to her mouth and she takes an involuntary step forward. As the Duke handles the young stallion, the Princess takes the time to appreciate the coloring and mannerisms of the animal. Noticing the likenesses between the Sutherland breed and the Kundari breed she had grown familiar with all her life, she cannot help but to smile somewhat secretively, certain that he is aware of the likenesses.

"May I?" Once the animal has been calmed, Nima asks permission to approach, not wanting to do anything to earn his distrust or to get him harmed and he knew his horse better than anyone else. "He responds well to you." His approval brings another delighted smile and she steps nearer, slowly, hands at her side. Her maid wisely remains back where she had been standing, just watching warily.

The young stallion is wary of strangers but his ears are pricked forward and do not flick, nor does he step back from her. He extends his nose, warm breath to wuffle against her. Ronan keeps the horse from being too pushy and get into Nima's face, "I have worked a great deal with him. My previous mount was killed at the battle of Westgate some years and I trained another but he was lamed such as he would never be sound again. So now I have Alanzo."

Ronan may not wish to admit it, but he has affection and pride in his horses and especially this one. He strokes the thick neck, "I have skirmished with him but this coming spring he will be put to the test, should we ride to war." The Duke watches Nima as much as he watches his horse, mindful not to let the stallion try anything that might hurt or frighten her. But the horse is quieter and seems to behave.

"Kundari horses are smaller and Mobrin knightly steeds are heavier, taller. But none surpasse a Sutherland horse to carry a knight with speed and endurance upon the field of battle."

Once the horse holds audience for her, Nima offers her free hand to the horse, carefully tucking the rosemary behind her back. She smiles at the wuffling against her and even leans in to feel the breath on her face, in her hair she always keeps bound in a braid, as is tradition for her people, for no one may see her hair down and free but a husband. So it is always bound. Enchanted, she murmurs softly to the animal, even going so far as to introduce herself. "I am Nima al-Milan, Alanzo, and you are most beautiful. I recognize the Kundari in you," she muses.

The affection for horses that she feels is apparent in the fearlessness she shows as she gently and slowly lifts her hand after giving him a chance to familiarize himself with her scent, gently touching just above his flared nostrils, and only briefly at that. "Yes, Kundari horses are smaller, but the coloring and the bearing hint subtly at a history of being mixed with those of our own stock." Lifting her gaze to that of the Duke, she smiles, this one more full and without reservation. "It seems the horses have found a way to ally."

Ronan keeps one hand up close on the halter to cut off any would be antics. The grey's ears move around and he suddenly lifts a front leg to paw the cobbles with a loud sound! Hopefully Nima isn't in the way to get knocked, something she may be familiar with in young, impatient horses, stallion or otherwise. "Shhh, stop that." The Duke gives him a sharp tug on the halter and then loosely swings the end of the lead to get the horse's attention. Alanzo stops at once, head going back up. "Kierne, take him. Saddle up your gelding and take a few other riders with you to exercise the horses. We can put off sparring until this evening. They need to run."

The Rioga's squire comes up to take the stallion. Ronan gives him over and runs his hand down the grey's shoulder, back and haunch as Kierne leads him out and back towards the stables to prepare his own horse. The stallion prances, knowing the routine and eager not to be put back in his stall just yet.

The Duke's attention returns to watching Nima herself, "I … admit, that when Kundari horses, few as they have been in Sutherland, were obtained, we did not waste them. They were fine animals, if small. Fast and hardy with good sound legs and hardest feet we'd ever found." Ronan clasps his hands behind his back once more, "Not all were suitable but .. I won't deny some were bred with Sutherland stock." Ahem.

<FS3> Nima rolls Horsemanship: Failure.

The lifting of the hoof is so sudden, Nima had failed to anticipate it and it strikes her leg. No match against the strength of it, she is knocked back just slightly, but she attempts to hide the contact by letting it be assumed she had been just getting out of the way and she just bites her lip and looks away. There was vast and immense discomfort, but she was determined not to show it. Her hand grips the rosemary tight, relieved for now that the horse was being led away. She makes no attempt to move, nor does she show any of the dismay she feels.

When she speaks, her voice is somewhat strained, though the reason is not immediately known. "Yes, Your Grace, Alanzo is majestic such as he is, because of his breeding." When the horse is led away, Syri hurries to Nima's side, recognizing something is wrong. "My Princess?" There is doubt and questions as she gently touches her arm, recognizing the distress.

Nima is good at having stepped back quickly and Ronan thought she'd been fast enough to avoid the pawing. He watches Kierne handle Alanzo until he hears the Princess speak. Even he detects something amiss in her words, cocking his head subtly at her. His dark eyes look to her handmaiden, then to Nima herself, "Your Highness, are you all right? It's getting chill. Perhaps you would care to go in? It would not due for you to come down with winter illness."

It was certainly no viciousness on Alanzo's part. The horse is eager to move and not be confined by stall or halter with Ronan's hand to keep him still. While a groom fetches and saddles Kierne's gelding and word was sent to gather a couple of the Sutherland knights, the squire lets the stallion circle until all is ready.

Ronan's attention however is upon the Kundari Princess. "Aye, breeding and training. Now let us get you inside, your Highness. You may show me your camel creatures tomorrow?"

"I.." Preparing to tell him she was just fine, Nima cannot force the lie past her lips. "I was too near. It was my own fault, Your Grace. I know better and yet stood too near." Syri offers her arm to assist the Princess and Nima takes it without question, leaning on her maid for support, for that is all she should need to get back. It would bruise, surely, but nothing was broken.

"Oh yes, it is getting cooler, I think and tomorrow we can hope for another day of sun and beautiful weather and I would adore showing you the camel then. Thank you for your time, Sir Ronan. And the rosemary." Which she still holds in her hand, a smile worn as she looks down at the sprig.

He hadn't realized! Ronan frowns, "I am very sorry. I hope you are all right, your Highness. I should have warned you to stand a bit to the side, not quite in front of him. Any horse might paw." He steps around her and starts to tip his head to try and look to see if her leg is all right but no, he should NOT do that. Let the women tend to her. Ronan clears his throat, "I … you have my sincerest apology, Princess Nima." It comes out a touch gruffly but seems sincere enough.

A nod then, "Aye, tomorrow, if you are not hurt." He looks a little concerned but not going to fuss. His gaze drops to what is yet held in her hand, then back up to her face, "You are welcome." A pause ere he adds, "Thank you for joining me in the garden."

Kierne is coming out just then with his own horse. Ronan watches Nima to be certain that she does seem to be all right, then he bows to her, "I bid you a good day." With that, he turns not to go back into the castle but to walk out and take his stallion's lead so Kierne can see to his own horse, "Hold a moment. I'll saddle Alanzo and join you. I could use the ride." His squire nods, "Yes, Sir." and will await his Duke.

"Of course, any horse might paw, I have been around them enough to know better. It was my own lapse of judgement." Accepting the fault rather graciously. "Please there is no need to apologize and I had a most wonderful time speaking with you and meeting Alanzo. He is beautiful and his name fits him well." Nima is honestly trying to be reassuring.

"Tomorrow, Your Grace." Nima affirms the meeting gladly, looking forward to it. "It was my pleasure to join you, truly." Bowing her head to him, the smile she holds is sincere before she is led back the way she had come, her maid assisting and her limp only slight. Nothing a hot bath would not cure. She looks back one time, to watch him mount his horse, wanting to see man and beast together.

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