Inouv 38, 228: So Long

So Long
Summary: Ronan knows something he can't tell. It makes conversation rather difficult around his announcement to return to Sutherland.
OOC Date: December 27, 2013
Related: The Surprise Offer
Ronan Roslin 
Sutherland Attache Office
The office used by Sutherlanders at the keep.
Inouv 32, 228

The past few days, the Duke of Sutherland has been gone away from the castle. Gone where? Who knows. Out over the countryside maybe, and then he shows back up at the Festival of Lights. So clearly Ronan had not yet departed for his beloved Sutherland even if by now he must be itching to go. Instead he returned last evening after dancing. This morning he has spent in the Attache Office catching up on paperwork and sorting the audience schedule with Kierne for those who wish to meet to discuss business. Then a light lunch and off to arms practice for a few hours.

Now, the Crawford returns to the Sutherland suites wearing his armour, dark hair damp from sweat. Ronan pauses to pour himself a glass of wine while Kierne takes his helm into the bedchamber to clean and place on the mannequin. Ronan tastes the wine, door left open behind him, as he picks up a paper left on the desk to glance over it.


Men can be such disgusting creatures, with their sweat and their stink. But that is not noticed, at least, not yet, by the many footfalls that pass by the open door. A guard. A maid. A Princess. Another guard. It is the Princess, however, who stops as she passes, looking into the door with a smile on her face. An innocent, unknowing smile. Her maid, Elisabeth, doesn’t appreciate all this nearly as much - the girl is carrying several leatherbound stacks of papers.

“Your Grace,” Roslin says from the door, not entering yet - certainly not without an invitation. “Forgive me, sir - I was on my way to the Master of Law’s office and I saw you here. I wished only to stop and thank you again for your duties yesterday evening. I hope you managed to enjoy yourself after I had left. I went back to the carriage - the cold, it seems, is too much for me sometimes.”

She looks fairly regal today, wearing a bluish silver dress of long velvet, pipped in an intricate pattern of knots down the front. Beneath, her bodice of sewn beads shimmers, and the underskirt boasts the same knotly pattern. A silver tiarra sits upon her crown of braids, with a matching silver eight-pointed star at her throat.


A second taste of the deep red wine and turning the vellum over, Ronan begins to look at what is noted on the verse of the page, until the voice in the hall turns his head. "Good afternoon, Your Highness." Ronan leaves the desk and walks through the suite and to the door so to speak more civilly with her. "You are of course very welcome. I did enjoy the evening. Especially our dance. Also, Duke Aidan Kincaid arrived right before I departed and it was good to speak briefly with him, and I saw the Princess Nima arriving as I went. Alas, I did not dance with her."

Aye, he needs to go to the bathes or have one drawn. Ronan's gaze passes over Roslin's attire ere he says low, "You look very nice today, Your Highness." A sip of his wine, "Master of Laws' office?"


“Yes. Oh, forgive me,” Roslin frowns a little, leaning in to speak a bit more softly with the man. Still outside of his door, though. “I beg you not to say anything of it, but my brother has assigned me to scribe for the former Master of Laws, that I may be more educated in the business. But as my Father has not yet given his approval, it is not something that may really be spoken of, yet.” And indeed, if he looks, he might catch the vague outline of a well-scrubed ink stain or two on her hands. “And that is very kind of you to say, Your Grace. Thank you,” She steps back after thanking him for his compliment.

“I am sorry you did not have the opportunity to dance with the Princess Nima. Is she familiar with the dances of Mobrin? If not, I should be happy to assist her in becoming more comfortable with them. Perhaps she may be able to teach me some of hers.” She gives the man an encouraging smile.

“His Grace of Lakeshire is here? That is fantastic news. I have such an affinity for their family, after the year I spent with them. I shall have to seek him out and welcome him.” The maids and the gaurds continue to stand around her as the two chatter in the doorway.


A slow nod, "Yes, Duke Aiden Kincaid married my late Aunt, so I suppose he's like an Uncle unto myself. His children are my cousins. I have always gotten along very well with the Kincaids, hense my squiring and now my own squire." A hint of a smile at memory of times spent at Lakeshore.

"I know not if the Princess Nima is familiar with our dances yet that is a very good point. I shall be pleased to mention it to her, thank you. Doing so may be useful and enjoyable for both of you."

Ronan has noted the handmaiden carrying the books. He looks to her, then back to Roslin, "I should like to invite you in but I see clearly you were on your way and I should not detain you. Perhaps once you have dropped off the books, and I have changed out of my armour, you would care to stop by for tea and a light meal, Your Highness?" Really, he's expecting Roslin to refuse him, her likely having more important things to do with her day. Nonetheless he adds, "It should not take me long."

“I would thank you very much if you would mention it to her. I daresay you see her far more than I do.” Roslin turns, then, to regard the maid behind her. Perhaps he is expecting her to say no, but then, Roslin does have a habit of turning up and doing unexpected things.

“That would be lovely, Your Grace. I thank you so much for the invitation. I shall look for the Princess Nima on my way to the Master’s chambers, and see if she may join us. At the very least, to make up the ride I missed. I am very sorry for that.” She nods once more to her maids, then bows her head respectfully for the man. “I shall see you soon, Your Grace.”


It will take him a little while to get out of his armour but as there are now hot bathes downstairs in the castle, Ronan need not have a bath drawn in his chambers. Kierne takes extra clothes and down they go to get cleaned up so that a moderately short time later they are both returned, hair damp and smelling of soap instead of sweat. Kierne settles himself to going over Ronan's armour to see if anything needs repair or cleaning and oiling ere he'll go over his own set.

As for himself, the Duke briefly oversees the laying of a table with late afternoon luncheon plates and a few choices in wine or tea for his soon to arrive guest. Now dressed once more in mourning black, Ronan is crisp about his person and takes a seat behind the desk to go through papers until Roslin's arrival. "We should see if your Uncle will join us for supper tonight, Kierne. I'm certain he would care to catch up with you about your training, and I should care for news of Weston and the north myself. I would also care to know whom else has come to court with him for I should like to see my cousins, if any of them have arrived."

Kierne looks up from the chain he's inspecting and rubbing down with an oiled cloth. Ronan's armour set is very dark, smokey and almost black as befits one of the King's Rioga. "I would like that very much, Sir. I shall make the inquiry."


Roslin had absolutely no intention of accepting the Duke’s invitation. Find Princess Nima, extend the offer, send apologies and excuses after the fact. It’s a very simple game she intends to play, a game that atones for whatever sembelence of feelings she aknowledges to have. But it is all thrown asunder when the Princess Nima cannot be found in the short time provided, and the papers have been dropped off.

So she has little choice but to return, to ask to be shown in and to bow her head respectfully to him once she has done so.

“Forgive me, your grace,” she says, the first words from her lips an apology. “I was unable to locate the Princess in such short time. If you would prefer, we may eat another time when she has been located.”

The Princess does notice that the man is cleaner, the air around him a bit sweeter smelling. It relaxes her. After all, it’s unlikely that a Princess has much experience with men covered in dirt and grime. Naturally the sweeter smelling men of court would be the norm.

She lets her hands smooth out on her blue velvet skirts, watching the man as he makes his determination. Kilgour guards have remained outside, and only Elisabeth, who watches the man with hawk-like eyes, has entered with her.


Of course he moves to stand at once and come around the desk at Roslin's arrival. Ronan tries to smile a little, "Please, come in and both of you are welcome." He indicates the most comfortable seating in the chamber, now shifted around the small table laden with food, plates, and drink. "It is no matter. My invitation was to you, Your Highness. I am quite capable of making my invitations to the Princess Nima herself and I shall do so upon another occasion. I trust you will seek her company yourself for you have said that you would."

If she will allow him, Ronan pulls out a chair for Roslin to take her seat before he will then step around to take his own. Kierne has been told not to bother serving them at table for Ronan can take care of their needs himself. He indicates Roslin's choices in red or white wine, warmed mulled wine, or tea. The table itself is set with winter berries and apples, some fresh and some dried. There are sliced meats, both fowl and beef, savoury sauces and fresh warm bread, and two kinds of cheeses. A light offering.

Ronan himself selects an apple. He draws the dagger at his belt and sticks it and once it is upon his plate, he begins to cut it into pieces. "The King, your father, is yet holding himself in seclusion and will not see me at this time. I am considering taking my departure, perhaps as early as tomorrow. There is little point in my remaining here waiting when there is much in Sutherland that requires my attention." A pause ere he finishes, "Perhaps yourself or the Princess Nima will come south and enjoy Sutherland's warmer hospitality?"


“No doubt you are right, Your Grace.” Curses, curses, and more curses! It’s so tough when a plan doesn’t come together. And it all seemed so easy, after the riding went off without a hitch. That Roslin knows of, anyway.

“You are very kind to have me this afternoon,” she says, glancing at him as he assists her into her seat. She selects the mulled wine, as he likely knew that she would, and watches as it is poured. Elisabeth, in the meantime, has set herself across the room with some embroidery. The woman must embroider a mountain a month, as she seems proficient at it. She does not need to look, much, which allows her eyes to remain on the pair.

Cheese, beef, bread and a touch of sauce seems to be Roslin’s preference, and she takes each individual piece, delicately set on her plate, and cuts even the small bites. Princesses only nibble, after all. Anything beyond that is unseemly. The sight of the man sticking and cutting his own apple with the dagger seems to fascinate the redhead. The table manners of a knight versus the table manners of a Lord. It’s intriguing.

“Hmm? Sutherland … of course,” she murmers, softly. “I imagine with my father not seeing anyone, your desire to stay has worn thin. I hope that all this is sorted out quickly. I know how eager you are to move on with the business.” And then? She hesitates.

It’s only a few seconds, but it is there. The answer that was on her tongue is swallowed and replaced with a new. “With father indisposed I daresay it would not be a good time for me to leave court. But Princess Nima, I am sure, would benefit from the warmer climates. And perhaps, when the appropriate celebrations are in place, I may come with the rest of the court to bear witness to your happiness.”



Some of the now sliced and cored apple is offered to Roslin, but not from the tip of his dagger. Ronan has enough manners not to point it at her even with an apple speared on the tip of it. No, and besides, that same dagger has been stuck through a man's ribs at least once and tasted of death in the field. Of course, that was some years ago and it's been well cleaned many times since.

"I … did not expect you would accept, Your Highness. I understand." The Duke admits low, "I will indeed invite the Princess Nima though I don't think she'll take me up on the offer either. Not while we yet await further news concerning the Kundari King's Laniveer ships of war." For himself he likewise selects the beef, with a pinch of salt sprinkled over and some gravy, bread and both kinds of cheese. A large plate by Roslin's tiny tid-bits standards yet not excessive. A bite is taken of his light meal and he continues only once his mouth is cleared with a sip of wine.

"Aye, it is true that things here move far too slowly for me. I will not be so far that a bird can't be sent to fetch me back at the King's pleasure."

Roslin bites and swallows her little nibble, watching the man with curious eyes. “So there is … no news, then? Other than the vague rumors that have reached us all?” She sips her wine, casting her eyes downward and to the side thoughtfully. “One would assume that her brothers would know, by now, in what state their navy currently stands. The ships have been considered part of the dowry since the beginning.” She lifts her eyes again and offers an encouraging smile. “Still, I imagine they shall find a way to compensate for that which is lost in order to move the alliance forward. In doing so, they will be much more free of Laniveer control, and in doing so it will likely end the raids they have made upon your countryside. That is something to pray for.” Another sip of wine. Another nibble. Roslin lifts her gaze once more to the man, admiring his cleanliness and reaching forward to take the apple from him with a little smile - and, perhaps, a blush. Damn Tyrel and damn his powder. It fades quickly.

“May I ask, your Grace, why you were surprised that I would accept your invitation? This is not the first time that we have kept each other’s company, though perhaps it is the first time over food. And there is certainly nothing in Sutherland cuisine that would dissuade me from a visit.” Ah, finally. A smile.


He has become increasingly reserved and aloof as the meal goes on, having a sense of what Roslin's answer will be to her mother and father. It is truthfully better if he just accept that and smother his foolish brief hope before it is allowed to grow stronger. Better a hard and indifferent heart than to allow pain. So Ronan has fallen silent in their meal as she speaks, listening as he eats quietly.

"If her brothers know anything, why would they not inform Princess Nima herself?" Ronan thins his mouth, "I hope that we may … somehow make the alliance work. I have concerns that whether Sutherland gets what I had hoped for or not, we need the Kundari allied with Mobrin and not snubbed to turn back to the Laniveer. Certainly I could do worse and I would rather not be the man to ruin such alliances due to bickering over a few ships." Yes, his mood has shifted to something grimmer and more gruff, even if he's trying to keep it subtle.

Her light blush is noted when Roslin accepts the apple slices. His gaze rests upon her for a long moment before Ronan looks back to his cup to pick it up. How to answer her? "Sharing a brief meal is one thing but no, I did not expect you would come to Sutherland without due reason. It does not matter. As you say, there is need for you here and it is your place, Your Highness." Sometimes she gives mixed signals and a man like Ronan isn't always certain how to read Roslin's mind or heart.


As the meal progresses, and as the man becomes more withdrawn, Roslin continues to push forward. Prodding him, teasing him, trying to draw a smile from him as she saw - even last night. When these attempts fail, she too fades into a bit of pensive, dissapointed quiet.

“If the alliance should fail over the issue of dowry, Your Grace … well I do hope you would not feel so obligated to accept as to ignore the harm done to Sutherland. What happened with … if I may speak frank … my brother was a snub. But a marriage agreement failing because of dowry concerns - that is a legitimite and fair reason for a match not to go forward. No one in my family doubts your loyalty, sir.” She smiles again. She’s trying! “You need not sacrifice yourself for the sake of doing so to prove it.”
When he speaks about his invitation to Sutherland, Roslin pauses to dab her mouth - though there is nothing there to dab, it is clean. Her eyes are cast downward in thought. But when it comes time to speak, she looks up at him, leans forward a little, and speaks quietly.

“It is not my place, Your Grace,” she admits, apologetically. “Sutherland is not my place right now. It may be Princess Nima’s, if she would be willing, and if she seeks to get to know the place that might be her home. If the decision were mine, I would like nothing more than to travel away from the court for awhile. I loved Lakeshire, and I have visited Sutherland before and I am sure I would love it there again. But …. I do not think, given everything that has been discussed between us, that it would be entirely appropriate. Surely … you understand that.”


A muscle in Ronan's jaw ticks once as he glances up from his meal. No, he is not pleased but that too doesn't matter. He tries not frown, "No, your father does doubt my loyalty. He tests me, Your Highness. If I am any judge of men, I know the look upon his face and saw the smile and glint in his eye as he made his threats and pushed me to anger, quite intentionally. Because he knows it puts me in a very difficult situation, should I dare to oppose his will."

Now looking at his meal he works to finish rather than at Roslin herself, Ronan nods, "Yes, of course I understand that reasoning. Which is precisely why I said I didn't expect you to accept the invitation. No need to fret over it on my account, Your Highness. You have the retired Master of Laws with whom to study and in truth, I shall be very busy seeing to my troops, supplies, horses, the mines, and to what ends I may yet establish much needed shipyards. Or to commission the use of other such yards elsewhere." A brief frown, "I have been told that House Alesky, small as it is now, nonetheless is capable of building war ships if they but had the timber to do so. I should bespeak Lord Vuk ere I depart."


“No, I cannot think that he does,” Roslin says, though it is said in a lighter tone. More of an observation than an argument. “You have served us already in battles, distinguished yourself there. My father, sometimes he can be mysterious. But in no way do I think that he doubts you. I know my brother does not. I know, for certain, that I do not.” She lets those words hang in the air a moment, looking back to her plate. Suddenly the food doesn’t seem so … attractive.

When he speaks, discussing what will be done and who needs to be spoken with, for a brief moment the Princess does not seem to know how to continue on with the small talk. It seems overbearing, oppressive, this talk of nothing. But, grudgingly, her lifetime of tuteledge steps in and directs her appropriately.

“I do not think I am familiar with Aleksy. Are they located in the south? I should think, with Sutherland’s mines, you might well be able to arrange some manner of agreement that would leave you with a far more protected border, Kundari or otherwise.” She lifts her utensils again. Cut here. Push here. Move here. Unstack this. Restack that. Not really eating anything now.


He has likewise lost his appetite, but not before he had mostly finished his plate so Ronan makes himself eat the last bit. Then a drink of his wine and a refill of his cup. The Duke is mindful to refill Roslin's cup as well if for no other reason than to warm it for her again. "We shall see where I stand with your father, Your Highness. It is his play to make now for I have done my part as far as I can, for I can not forge alliances for Mobrin where I lack the authority to speak for the King."

A glance to read Roslin's face. The Rioga leans back in his chair and keeps his wine glass, "I am uncertain where the Lord Aleksy's lands lay, but that he is vassal to Baron Caedmon Kilgour and has some island somewhere abouts. Not far from here, I gather. I will likely arrange a visit on my way back to Sutherland. No matter what comes or not of marriage alliances I can see to setting something in motion to see Sutherland's needs will be met in time."

Yes, it rather looks like their luncheon is coming to a close. Ronan is astute enough to see Roslin is dithering now with her food. He moves to stand and walk over to the casement to look out. "I thank you for joining me for repast. I hope that your studies with the past Master of Laws is of benefit unto you and the King's Council."


Roslin remains fairly quiet. Confused, embaressed, and quiet. But the first two, at least, she hides somewhat well. When he thanks her for coming, she knows that is the time to rise. She does so, bringing her hands to fold directly in front of her. Upset? Perhaps. But always a creature of grace and dignity. She moves away from the table to face the man.

“You are very kind to have invited me, Your Grace. This is something I wish we had done sooner in our aquaitence.” She gives him a little smile - she will force the smile out, no matter the other emotions. Those words, at least, are sincere. “I hope I may prove worthy of the study. If nothing else, my handwritting in letters from now on will be pristine. The Master is very strict on such things.”

She pauses a moment before continuing. “If we do not speak again, I hope your trip to the South is fruitful, and that ere long my Father will call upon you to settle all matters to your utmost desires.” Her voice faulters, becomming a bit more casual. “And perhaps, on your return, we may once more have the pleasure of a dance. I do hope that you shall take care to be cautious on the roads. It is winter, and not a safe time for nobility to travel anymore, it seems.” She pauses another moment. “You shall surely be in all my prayers.”


Ronan turns from the window to more fully face her, his glass of wine left on the sill. "That is very kind of you, Roslin." Yes, despite the fact that he may earn her ire, he simply uses her name, if only this once. He quietly studies her face, so very young and strong willed. She may not be as beautiful as the Princess Nima but it is that fiery will of hers that has drawn him. "I will be well enough in my travels. May the Gods will it, I would rather die upon the field of battle as my father did, than to perish merely in travel. If the Gods think so little of me then my House deserves to fail, but I think not. They test me as surely as your father does, but if they had meant me so ill, I too would have been at Trueborn keep when my family was put to the sword. No, I believe Sess has other plans for me." The Duke smiles a little, not with pride, but some thought there must be some grain of truth to that matter.

His arm he offers to Roslin that he may escort her to the door. "Your brother has issued the challenge that your penmanship was lacking, or so I have heard. I have no doubts you will master it to a level that will be nothing short of artistic, Your Highness. You have ever impressed me as being a determined young woman. So I know you will conquer it easily."

At the door, whether she accepted his arm or not, Ronan stops at the door. Looking at her, he says very low, "It would be my pleasure to dance with you many times again, yet … I think, it will be your preference not to. I know what you want in life, Your Highness, and I should not try to … keep you from your proper ambitions, much as I have been tempted to try."


It is not Roslin’s ire he should concern himself with, but Elisabeth the maid’s. She takes a particular mental note of that moment, wrinkling her nose in displeasure at the familiarity of it all. So very scandalous!

For her part, the Princess seems a little startled by the familiarity. She blinks a few times, recalling his words to make sure that she heard him properly. Numb with the surprise of it still, she slips her arm in with his. Her free arm reaches over, relying on his for weight by placing her bare hand over his. A small touch of skin, no more than they would get if they were dancing and entirely appropriate here. But it is the first touch of skin that has passed between them. As expected, her own is warm and exceptionally soft, owing its state to a lifetime of soft living.

“I do not doubt it, Your Grace,” she finally responds. “I do not doubt that you shall do great and wonderous things for your house and for the realm.”

She laughs a little, a giggle almost when he mentions Tyrel. “He likes very much to irk me. But I owe many of my accomplishments to him. He challenges me as inferior - I love nothing more than to prove his supposition false.”

In an instant, far too short a time as far as Roslin is concerned, she reaches the door and stops with him. She hears his words. And she flushes, full and red. Were his words the cause? The nearness of his perfect arms? “You are mistaken, sir,” she responds, gently. Perhaps not every word is overheard, but every movement is still openly watched. “I would have danced the whole night with you if you had not so many others calling for your hand. I do what Father bades me do. I have sworn to him that I shall be everything he could wish in a daughter and a Princess and in return he will see that my fate is tied to the good of my people. In truth, I ask no more than that.” Yes, she wants to be Queen. But moreover, she wants to be useful to Mobrin. She has not yet released his arm.


There /are/ things he wishes he could say to her. It's just as well that he may not for he would probably embarrass himself. Ronan pays no attention whatsoever to Roslin's handmaiden, not the least bit intimidated by Elisabeth's glaring so he ignores it. His attention is only for the Princess on his arm at the door. There is a long, far too long a silence as the Rioga watches Roslin. Finally, a muscle in his jaw ticks once more and he carefully removes his arm from her hand and then bows to her.

"We shall see what you say unto me, when next we meet, Your Highness. A great many things can change within a short span of time. Until then … it is better I remove myself and see to my own affairs. Both of us have the welfare of Mobrin to heart above all else, and that is as it should be." A faint attempt at a smile for her, "May you flourish and the Gods be kind unto you, Princess Roslin. Until we meet again."


Oh, Elisabeth will so be going to the Queen about this. Madness, given names thrown about in such a way. Absolute madness.

Roslin has a lifetime of ignoring Elisabeth when there are other things on her mind, so to even be bothered by it is difficult for her. She looks up at the man beside her - way up - for a few moments as the quiet settles over them. Eventually, she shies away, her face holding it’s pink in the cheeks as she glances down. When he moves away from her, she releases him, easily and gently. She watches him bow.

“I hope, whatever I may say to you next, that it is not terribly far in the future before it is said.” She lowers her own head in a respectful bow to the Duke. “What you do for your lands and for your realm is admirable, your Grace. Your dedication and loyalty are an example for others.” She bows once more, and smiles sincerely at his smile’s attempt. But then Elisabeth is there, and Roslin opts to take her maid’s arm in order to turn and make for the door slowly, easily, leisurely.

Perhaps, if he rolls a good perception check, he might hear her mutter something. Perhaps it might be his name - his given name - as if just to try the taste of it. But then, perhaps not.

Either way she moves out the door, with only a small glance back as she turns the corner with her maid.


Ronan keeps his place standing in the doorway as they part. His gaze follows Roslin and he keeps his silence while doing so. He will remain standing there for a moment longer, then turn and close the door, turning from it. Back to the window casement and his wine there, and the papers that await his final attention.

Kierne watches from where he sits working on his lord’s armour, but he says not a word.

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