(1866-08-10) Playing With Fire
Playing With Fire
Summary: Having departed Lonnaire to clear her head, Esyld crosses paths with Corvin in a tavern in Rovilon.
Date: Aug 10th
Related: Two Moments
Corvin  Esyld  

The Lobbed Scimitar — Rovilon
In scene
Aout 10th, 1866

Corvin Fremont was rather surprised to be dispatched from Lonnaire so close to his sister's wedding, but when his father calls him to duty, he answers. A man had needed to die…and now he's dead. Thankfully, the gate he travelled through was not the ordinary gate from Lonnaire to Rovilon, but rather one of the Black Network…unpleasant in appearance, but producing a milder period of gate sickness than the normal route. Oh, it still required a day of recovery on each end of the trip, but that was stil far better than two or three days!

And now? His work done in the usual efficient and cold-blooded style he oft employs, Corvin is spending the last evening before his appointment to depart back for Lonnaire relaxing, seated at a corner (but no, not a particularly shadowy one) of the Lobbed Scimitar Inn, nursing an ale and simply watching the crowd, looking mostly bemused with the comings and goings.

Several long days accompanying a caravan. A bloody woefully uneventful few days, point of fact. Captain Draven is both weary and aching. It's been a while since she rode a horse other than her own beloved destrier and the little chestnut gelding she chose for the trip, while perfectly amiable, moves very differently. The hired blades from Ostvor seemed pleasant enough to one another, but they elected to leave this mercenary woman alone. Which meant many hours of no company but her own thoughts. Normally that would be quite alright. Preferable, even. Not at the moment. Still, the venture has put coin in her purse and successfully taken her away from Lonnaire, which should get certain people off her back when she deigns to return. The Foxes are in safe hands during her absence.. so why not ferret out a few additional jobs, while she has the opportunity? The recollection of her brother's displeasure doesn't exactly have her eager to hurry home quite yet.

This is far from Esyld's first trip to Rovilon. No, sir. And the Scimitar is as good a place as any to find bed and board, if you've a few coins to spare. Which she does, for once! Descending a staircase that's only a little rickety - she doesn't bother bracing a hand on the banister, anyway - the raven-haired woman pads across to the bar with the contented air of one who knows what she's about, in such surroundings. There's even a smile for the barkeep to precede a quiet exchange. Business or pleasure?

Corvin naturally tends to keep track of all sorts of details when he's in places like this…where all the available weapons are. Which people here are carrying them (hidden or otherwise) and whether or not they look like they can use them. The quickest escape routes if needed. And of course, comings and goings. So when Esyld descends and advances on the bartender, it draws an upward tilt of a brow. Of all the places…but then again this is one of the more popular establishments in town. Still, for the moment he does nothing to draw any particular attention to himself. Perhaps his own test of whether or not she notices…and what her reaction where is. He does inwardly chuckle a bit…already imagining what she might think.

<FS3> Esyld rolls Perception: Good Success.

She might be less attuned to the finer details.. but then, few would be foolish enough to start trouble with mercenaries good enough for the l'Saigners, right? So perhaps she has the right to relax her guard, for the time being. Nodding in assent to whatever the barkeep says, flattening a palm on the aged and worn wood of the countertop, it appears as though Esyld will be staying. And drinking. The proprietor has turned to fetch whatever she ordered. In the vacuum of conversation during these few moments, the Captain does belatedly let her blue eyes wander; roaming over the other occupants of the bar this evening with an air of idle disinterest. Even with that unapproachable expression dominating her features, she still warrants a few appreciative glances. Some she ignores, a few she meets and glares in response to until they're averted.

But there's a nagging sensation of eyes upon her, still. Not from any of these misguided creatures. So from where? Or who.. Frowning ever so slightly now, she rakes her gaze over the establishment more thoroughly as a cup of wine is set down by her elbow. Tossing a coin across in acknowledgement, the tall brunette's change in demeanour is palpable, even before she can place the source of her unease. And when she does? Her dark-lashed eyes settle on Corvin.. it is him, isn't it?.. and there's a distinct mutter of something - her lips move but the sound is lost in the hubbub of the inn.

It's probably still fairly easy to get the gist, though. As for her expression.. that fades to unreadable within a splitsecond.

Corvin can't help but smirk, though it's more rueful than sardonic. And perhaps expected, or perhaps not, there's a raise of his brows in a questioning glance, and a silent gesture to the empty chair opposite his own position. A silent invitation sent across the room, though what expectation he has of said invitation being accepted or not remains entirely a mystery, as there is not exactly a sense of expectation from it. Just…the question.

Well, obviously the temptation is to simply turn on her heel and walk away. But the unexpected sight of him, when he was the one thing she was trying to keep her thoughts from is… decidedly unfair. And she hesitates; differing responses warring across her features as he gestures in invitation to the chair. There's nobody here that would bat an eyelash. No disapproving looks or the certainty of scolding. Bloody scolding. She's not a child! ..then again, it's the sudden urge toward rebellion that makes her decision for her, in the end. Who cares if she should, the point is that she can. Yes, that's a good policy to have.

Picking up her cup, the Captain strolls, deliberately unhurried, toward the lone figure in the corner. She looks well, if a little tired; returned to her usual overshirt and leggings. Not really the occasion for an evening dress, this. "..what are you doing here..?" Well, perhaps not the most silver-tongued of greetings but.. it seems genuinely curious rather than accusing. Esyld draws to a halt behind the chair, not yet taking a seat. Those wild blue eyes take in the Wraith unblinkingly and give little away. On the plus side, she's speaking softly. Not roaring or throwing things. So that's progress.

"In our continued efforts to ferret out the last of the Cardinal's close confederates, we came upon a merchant who had helped facilitate the sale of steel to the Tirians." Corvin replies conversationally enough, sipping from his ale. "How tragic that just this afternoon he took a tumble down the stairs of his home and broke his neck." Corvin sighs mock-melodramatically, "Seems I wasted a trip." He adds, "And you? Has your contract gone well? You seem in good health, at least."

A wry smirk plays about Esyld's lips, accompanying the arch of one slender brow. Doesn't believe a word of it. "Mmm. Tragic." Gently swirling her wine in its cup, she regards the Commander thoughtfully. "It's been uneventful." Whether that's good or bad is left unspoken, in favor of something less trivial. "..you didn't happen to speak with my brother again before you made your trip?" It's almost comical when she tries to sound nonchalant. Nothing about Esyld is nonchalant. Watching Corvin closely, she takes a small sip of her drink, her free hand coming to rest upon the chair's back.

"I cannot say that I did. Should I have?" Corvin looks curiously towards Esyld at the mention of her brother, "After our first meeting I did not have the impression that seeking out a second would be necessary nor wise." Corvin adds, "Plus there were other guests arriving. The Castle nears full capacity already, especially when accounting those guest quarters already reserved." Corvin takes another sip of ale and lowers the mug, "An uneventful convoy is good news after the troubles we've all recently endured." He glances around the room, his expression thoughtful, "The people seem in high spirits."

"I'd have to advise against it, for the forseeable future." replies the Captain, finally, with a sigh, stepping around the chair and easing into it. Ahhh, padded comfort. Well, at least, presumably, that means Corvin has no idea why she suddenly took it into her head to leave. Then again, how often does anyone actually understand Esyld Draven? Not bothering to elaborate, for the moment, she merely settles to listening as he speaks; resting a booted foot on the opposite knee and half perching her wine cup on a slender thigh. "Knowing the Lady Alina, it will be an event well worth remembering." It's true. But it's also an easy response. She's distracted. Following that glance over the crowd briefly, blue eyes lingering here and there but never for long, the mercenary does permit herself a faint smile as she spies a musician. A fiddler, too. "They do. It is certainly about time they had something worth celebrating, as you say, after so much hardship." With that, she remains otherwise still, lapsing into thought and chewing gently on a thumbnail.

"I trust it was a bountiful contract despite any lack of events along the route?" Corvin adds, leaning back in his chair casually, studying Esyld more intently, though it seems, at least for the moment, without any particular suspicion or recrimination. "It seemed it came up rather suddenly and I can't imagine an officer of your stature accepting it if it wasn't worth your while." He muses a bit, "Yes, I'm sure between the Duchess and my sister, it will be quite an affair. She'd never admit it but I doubt nothing would please her more than producing a celebration that others would compare favorably with the no-doubt-impending Royal Wedding in Rivana." He chuckles a bit at that, "And perhaps she may yet succeed at that goal."

"I expect it's somehow blasphemous to say that your sister is the greater beauty. But she is, so I say it anyway." Esyld will always, always side with the Duchess' children over anyone. It clearly doesn't concern her in the slightest, being so narrow when it comes to the rest of the world. The Queen can sod off - if Alina wants the best party, there's little doubt she'll get it. Captain Draven isn't much one for jewels and finery and fanciness.. but she won't pass judgement on those who do enjoy such things.

Looking down into her cup, instinctively lowering her gaze only to fight her own reaction and bring it back to Corvin's a moment later, regarding him through dark lashes, she pauses long enough to weigh her options, here. Gloss over it and let he and her brother settle it in whatever bloody manly fashion they see fit? Or tell the truth, lose yet more ground to him and risk looking foolish? Not much of a choice, either way. But.. well, he's been honest with her of late. Supposedly. Pressing her lips in a thin line, she draws a slow breath as she unfurls her legs, leaning forward to fold her arms on the tabletop. "The contract itself was.. well-paid enough. The logic behind taking it on is apparently irrevocably flawed, however." She absently taps the base of her wine cup, those eyes slowly but surely averting downward to follow that motion. "I told my brother the full extent of.. things. If that gets you a black eye or bloodied nose, then I apologise in advance. But there didn't seem much point in hiding anything. He was.. not best pleased." His little sister, seeming increasingly infatuated with the l'Saigner bastard? No. Jonathan t'Maren didn't approve at all. For the sake of her honor or his beloved family's reputation? She has her own opinions on that. The vaguely mutinous set of her jaw might even hint toward it, if one happened to be paying attention. "We agreed a little time away from Lonnaire might be wise. And yet..!" Looking up, she can't help but chuckle, low in her throat. "..it would appear fate is not without a sense of humor." Unchaperoned and feeling bitterly rebellious? Playing. With. Fire.

"Ah." Corvin mulls this over a bit, frowning, "So I may need take a beating to keep this situation from becoming even worse?" He sighs, "I suppose it'd be for the best if it comes to that, but hopefully mutual avoidance will suffice until he wanders back to Bloodfields. I'd not wish to aggravate the matter." He finishes off his mug of ale, though there's no immediate sign of whether this is the first or the first of many. "But you seem correct in fate's fickle moods. While I might wish I could make the sweeping romantic claim of chasing after to find you, I fear it'd fall somewhat short of the truth." Corvin smiles a touch, "But I can speak in all truth of being very pleased to see you, whatever my original purpose here." He beckons a barmaid for another mug while they chat.

"I don't think he'd go so far as to take a swing. Unless you provoked him." There's a vaguely wolfish smile from the Captain, at this. "And given what you do to my temper, that's no small risk, now is it." She takes a slow sip of wine, before sighing heavily. "Every time I try to somehow do the right thing, I seem to do quite the opposite. Interesting, especially when you consider it's nobody's damn business in the first place." Oho. Someone really doesn't like being told what to do. Following Corvin's glance to the barmaid, she too offers a subtle upnod. Keep 'em coming.

"Do I really strike you as the type.." she begins, slowly returning her attention to the man opposite her, "..to be remotely impressed by 'romantic gestures', anyway?" A fair point. So what does impress her? "Let's just call it an amusing coincidence." And a private hint of triumph over those not present.

"Oh? You are of the mind that parting from my company was the right thing?" Corvin cants his head curiously, oddly looking neither amused nor offended, "I could depart if you wish." He adds, "Though I freely confess it would not be my wish." He nods to the Waitress as the fresh mugs arrive, taking a gulp before adding, "I would rather tend to agree as to the matter being no ones' business but our own, but it seems people often have a minor obsession with such matters." He shrugs a shoulder, smirking a bit over the rim of the mug, "I suspect, Esyld, that when it comes to romantic gestures, you might be impressed with it if you knew for a certainty the sentiment behind it were sincere and the maker of said gesture to your liking." He looks thoughtful a moment, then smiles with amusement, "Yes, an amusing coincidence this surely is. But a pleasant one."

Esyld studies the Wraith in silence for a long moment before she offers her response, her tone measured. "..no. The sensible thing, perhaps. Certainly the best way to please those around me. But not the right thing. You'd think, not being of the main line, we'd have the freedom to do what we wish, when we wish, just because we wish it. But that's just not the case, is it." There's a similar lack of feeling either way from her, on this matter. Though her vivid eyes do steal away from him as she drains the last of her wine. Well, the first cup.

That thoughtful suggestion in regard to her own acceptance of things? That's enough to give her pause, and to bring her attention back with unconcealed surprise. By the time he's smiling, she actually relents to one too; a mere curve to tug at the corner of her lips, but it's there. "Get out of my head, Fremont." Beyond her, on the other side of the tavern, it would appear the musician is being assailed with requests already. Hasn't even finished his first frothy ale yet, poor bugger.

"No, it's not. Though we do have more than those of more officially-recognized blood, I suppose." Corvin replies as to the matter of freedom to do as they please. As to the latter, his grin grows just a touch wicked, "I suspect if you truly disliked my being there so very much, you wouldn't have accepted my invitation to sit, but I'll try to limit my time in residence nonetheless." He chuckles, glancing towards the musician, "Hm. It's looking as though I may shortly have opportunity to ask you for that dance I was unable to a couple of weeks ago."

"Sometimes I feel the only time my kin choose to admit I have t'Maren blood at all is when they wish to enforce a say in something.." mutters the Captain, though her expression doesn't quite darken to a genuine mood. She just traces the rim of her fresh cup with a fingertip and sighs, before setting the thoughts aside. Firmly. An idle glance upward happens to catch that wicked look from Corvin, and she meets it with an air of wry amusement - outwardly seeming unperturbed. "Well, it does seem unfair that you apparently have such a sound grasp of me. I am at a distinct disadvantage." Again with the combat comparisons. Is that what really bothers her? That he has the upper hand? Or that she actually tolerates it… "So." Taking up her cup, she dangles it between a thumb and forefinger, eyeing him with an unusually mischievous quality to those cerulean eyes. "Tell me something about you that would surprise me. Play fair." The smirk she offers hovers somewhere between faux-innocence and deliberate teasing. Amazing the difference being away from scrutiny can bring about. "..and, let's add the caveat: if you surprise me, we'll dance." There's more weight to those few words than the mere notion of joining in the festivities tonight. It's obvious in the way she looks at him, if only for a few beats. Then she's leaning back in her chair again, arching a brow expectantly.

Corvin frowns a bit, looking thoughtful as he sips from the mug of ale. He's clearly considering the challenge, and she can almost see him bringing up tidbits and dismissing them one-by-one as he thinks. Whether they are dismissed for purposes of secrecy, because he doesn't think they'll surprise her, or because he thinks they might kill the mood he simply keeps to himself, but likely some combination of all three is involved. He's actually silent for several moments, considering what to say that might actually surprise her. Finally, after he has thoroughly mulled over the options in his head, he fixes Esyld with an intent gaze and replies, "When I was very young…I thought that being a Knight must surely be the most grand occupation one could have, and thought I wanted nothing so badly as to become one one day."

He chuckles a bit, "My mother's influence…she used to tell me stories."

He's quiet long enough that Esyld is midway through a sip of wine when he begins speaking. She starts ever so slightly, flicking her gaze toward him over her cup and holding his own steadily, even when she lowers the drink and rids her lips of the excess. It was obviously a good question, given the consideration put into the answer. She doesn't mind waiting. Especially when she's quietly confident he won't find anything. One perk of being so cynical, really. When the reply does come, however.. she arches her brows, an unabashed wander of her attention taking in his appearance. Pointedly so? No, it seems merely for her own amusement. She doesn't tease him over the admission in the slightest.

"Thought you wanted..?" she echoes, in gentle question, canting her head a touch askance. "You changed your mind, then?" The mention of his mother does rouse a faint smile - but she's never thought to ask him about her, has she? Now doesn't quite seem the time, either.

"Yes well…suffice to say I was disabused of that notion fairly quickly." Corvin smiles, though there's a slight edge of disquiet to it, "And not long thereafter it was made relatively clear what I would become. Which ultimately seems to suit me well enough. Still, while some of the l'Saigner all but disdain Knights, I've never held the distaste for them that some others of my father's blood do. Different instruments have a different sound, but for the greatest performances you require many different instruments working in concert." He shrugs a shoulder, "That's how I choose to view it, in any case."

She's still watching him, her expression now one of mild amusement and grudging approval. Noting the disquiet, she presses no further. For now. "How poetic. What does that make you, then? A flute, perhaps? A fiddle with a few broken strings..?" Esyld pushes back her dark hair with a rake of fingertips. "Obviously I have considerable respect for Knights, given my upbringing. What people forget is all Knights are not necessarily Paladins. Or l'Correns, for that matter." Yes, one might see why a t'Maren wouldn't really approve of a l'Corren being held up as the yardstick for Knightly ideals.

Setting aside her cup quietly, the Captain pushes to a stand in a languid, unhurried manner, pushing back her chair and smirking ever-so-slightly. With a fractional stoop at the waist, she balls one hand at the small of her back and offers the other, palm upward, to the Commander as the musician picks up a cheerful tune. Plenty others are already dancing, though none with particular skill or finesse. An easy crowd to lose oneself in.

"I don't know. Something that few notice until it's missing, I suppose." Corvin shrugs a shoulder, smirking a bit, "I confess I haven't carried that analogy so far as to matching exact instruments to troop-types." There's a touch of wry humor to his tone, but when Esyld rises, he quirks a brow, but it shifts to a more pleasant smile when she offers her hand, and he too rises, setting aside his mug and taking her hand, "Well then…I suppose we shall dance." He chuckles, and while it may be unclear who's leading who to the dance floor, he doesn't seem to mind for the lack of clarity once the dance begins.

<FS3> Corvin rolls Dancing: Success.

"Hmm. No, it's not the easiest. There are few silent and deadly instruments, after all." Esyld concedes that point, with a low chuckle. Lightly twining dextrous fingers with those of the Commander, she dares a quiet smile up and aside toward him, before simply setting off through the crowd. When did it get so busy in here? The lure of ale and music is a wondrous thing, truly. But she'll keep her word.. or at least the superficial meaning of it, for the time being. He told her something, so they'll dance. She leads as far as the floor, finding them enough space within the group already indulging in some high spirited steps.. then surrenders the rest to Corvin. This is no courtly gathering, the steps likely won't matter much. But a woman leading a man? That would just look strange.

Speaking of which.. do young women usually look so wary on a dancefloor? For all her swaggering, mercenary bravado, the dark-haired Captain eyes her partner now with an oddly wide-eyed expression of uncertainty. Fire. Playing with. She doesn't quite know what to expect from him anymore.

Well, for now he simply seems to be enjoying himself. His steps aren't exactly expert, but they are passable. Perhaps to both their relief, they won't likely attract undue attention from anyone as they move across the floor in time with the cheerful tune. If he senses some uncertainty from her, he gives no sign of it. No knowing little smirk, no smug self-assurance. He seems…relaxed, really. About as much as she's ever seen him, anyway.

With one hand resting lightly at Corvin's shoulder, the fingertips of the other delicately balanced upon his own, Esyld allows him to guide her across the floor willingly enough - a nigh-unheard of moment of submission, really. But it's only dancing. And he's not doing anything to unduly concern her. That's also quite unheard of. Regarding him contemplatively, up-close, the Captain waits until they're not quite so close to the musician before asking a question; it saves her from having to raise her voice over the music. "When are you returning to Lonnaire?" A perfectly reasonable enquiry. And one that might help distract her from his proximity for a while.

"Tomorrow in the late morning, via Gate." Corvin answers readily enough, not missing a beat as they continue across the dance floor, "And you? Does your contract hold you until your return to Lonnaire or are you making your own way home?" He queries in kind, his feet seeming to move of his own accord as his eyes are, for the moment, glued to her own.

"The contract was only to see the goods as far as here; I have already been paid in full." Esyld's eyes flit aside as a particularly 'merry' couple stumble nearby. But they regain their footing. Looking back up at Corvin, she musters a tremulous smile. "..I'd intended to stay a little longer, so long as things are well. I do, regardless of how I may feel about being told so, need to clear my head. My position is who I am.. if I don't perform it to the highest possible standard, then I don't deserve it any longer. And then what would I do?"

While others throw in little spins or other such flourishes, the Black Fox Captain seems content enough with the simplest of steps, keeping her eyes on Corvin's now and following his lead with graceful ease. That, in turn, keeps her close, having so little distance between their steps. "I can't afford to be distracted, you see. And I have been. Enough so that my quartermaster got away with throwing a tankard of ale over me, anyway."

"That is rather distracted." Corvin frowns a touch at that, before adding more quietly, "And…I am the greatest source of this distraction?" He pauses a moment, not quite giving her a chance to answer, "Should that answer be in the affirmative, I can see only two possible recourses." He considers a moment, and speaks, "We choose to deny this…spark. Ignore it, and never act upon or speak of it again." Another pause, "Or we agree to acknowledge and explore it as we are able, and not to give a damn about what anyone else says or thinks over it unless or until someone who genuinely has the authority to do so calls an end to it."

Esyld's lips quirk in a rueful manner. "I don't distract you..?" She likewise doesn't wait for an answer, however. "It was so much simpler when we just disliked one another, Fremont. But.. you of all people know I'm not exactly talented when it comes to hiding my feelings." For a moment, she pauses. And actually takes the time to relish their surroundings. Her words are lighter, albeit fleetingly, when she points it out. "..here, we warrant no attention or opinion. It's oddly peaceful. Still.." Reluctantly, she draws her mind back to the matter at hand.

"I think my brother is, in his own, ham-fisted way, trying to protect me. I can understand why, in all honesty. But it remains my decision, doesn't it.." She's barely even talking to the Wraith any longer - this is her way of rationalising. Debating with herself. Her fingers flex slowly within the light grasp of his own. Searching Corvin's eyes, she eventually just falls quiet. Perhaps that's an answer in itself.

"Such an odd thought for me…the idea of a sibling protecting me instead of the other way around." Corvin chuckles, but grows more serious, "Though…I can understand how he may feel. Though at least when I took a dislike to any of Alina's suitors, I had little freedom to act unless she consented to it. Even to the point of having to remain perfectly polite in their presence." He sighs, "Not so much with your own brother. Even if his opinion is at best only indirectly relevant." He glances about at the mention of the peaceful aspect to their present surroundings, then laughs softly, "Somehow I think running off to a place where few if any know us isn't quite on the agenda, sadly. At least not as a permanent solution." He smiles, more good-humored than sardonic at that, "It is." He affirms as to it being her decision. "Well, at least half yours. The other half belonging to me, I should think." He amends with a chuckle.

"You see.. if Jon were beset by brigands, I'd step in on his side without a second thought. If it came to him choosing who he bedded, I'd assume that was none of my business." Realising a moment too late her choice of words, Esyld clears her throat and shakes back her dark hair; reaffirming her adopted expression of 'I don't care'. Despite having given away entirely too much in regard to where her thoughts might have strayed. Quite convincing, too. Aside from the brief rosy flush across her high cheekbones. Moving on.. "No, he's very like me in that you'll know very quickly if you have earned his ire. I'm afraid that can't be helped. Nor can your position and responsibilities be.. though I, of course, could wander off at the drop of a hat and nobody would mind overmuch."

Watching that smile curve across his lips, the blue-eyed woman quirks a brow. "And? What would your half of the decision be..?"

There's the slightest quirk of a brow in regards to Esyld's choice of words, and perhaps a glimmer of amusement that grows brighter at the touch of pink at her cheeks. Before he finally adds, "I would mind."

A simple enough declaration, really, but to the latter question? Well, perhaps the fact that he's now once again kissing her might give some indication as to where his preferences lie.

"Would you now.." Amusement mingles with pleasant surprise in Esyld's expression. She doesn't have time to contemplate teasing him, though. Still swaying gently to the music, her arms snake up around Corvin's neck when he leans in to press his lips to her own; bringing her slender form sinuously against his. It would appear, then, that a decision has been reached, against the odds. Rising desire makes its presence known as she returns the kiss, nipping softly at his lower lip with her teeth.. but she keeps it largely restrained. For now. In truth, she's relaxed in his arms, this time. Perhaps the freedom of anonymity agrees with her.

Reluctantly though it may be, Corvin does break the kiss after a few moments, though he shows little sign of letting Esyld go. It's simply a matter of decorum…there's still a dance going on! And anonymity or not few people want to be the couple snogging in the middle of the dance floor while others are trying to dance! So he does lead her through to the conclusion of the song, before leading her off to the side, near their little corner table. "I would." He studies her intently, his expression sincere, before he adds, "The night is young, but if you've a mind for more dancing, I won't object." A slight hint of a grin, "Though if you've a different manner of dancing in mind…" He glances around, "In this place where none will comment or care to repeat gossip of our whereabouts."

Fine, fine. Esyld allows herself to be led from the floor amid the cheers and applause of the crowd as the music concludes' following the Wraith back toward that quaint table. The sincerity in his tone and expression is.. well. Believable. That's a first, in her mind. The only way she has survived Corvin thus far is by merely brushing off practically everything he's ever said. Now what..? "Why don't we start with dancing…" She follows his brief glance, then looks back up at him, bringing one hand up to lightly graze a fingernail along the line of his jaw. "..and then we'll see about 'dancing', hm?"

Well. So much for the grand plan.

Corvin does indeed lead Esyld back to the Dance Floor, where they continue to enjoy the music and generally relaxed atmosphere, until finally, after a few more lively dances, they make their way back to the table they'd previously occupied. Another round of drinks is ordered up, and a pleasantly flushed Corvin enjoys a big gulp of the frosty ale. Ahhhh, refreshing! "This one's on me, but you can get the next." Corvin notes with a grin, beckoning for a waiter to refill Esyld's cup as well.

There's nothing like the jaunty music, laughter and dancing sort of merriment to see one lower their guard at least a little. Even a woman so aloof and.. detached as Esyld. It was obvious that night back in Lonnaire and equally so now. She can be pleasant. When she chooses. Besides, she's confident she can outdrink her current companion, so what need has she to concern herself with appearances? A subtle nod is tilted toward the server who brings fresh drinks, signalling her acceptance of another cup. "How gentlemanly of you." she remarks, though the words are laced with sardonic wit and she flits Corvin an amused look from beneath dark lashes. Well, in fairness, neither one of them is in particularly 'refined' company, tonight. She can pay her way well enough.

She regards him for a few moments more, waiting until the cups are set down and she has her own in a light grasp. One forearm braces on the tabletop, the opposite elbow props up her drink-wielding fingertips in an idle, languid pose. "..are you having fun, Master Fremont..?" she enquires, seeming genuinely curious and teasing all at once. He did admit to it having been a while, after all.

"Indubitably." Corvin replies with a grin, sipping from his ale. "Even if it's just one night, a bit of relaxation is better than none at all." He shrugs a shoulder, "Such is often the way where my leisure is concerned. Grab it where I can." He leans back in his chair, studying the room a bit, "And sometimes it really does seem that getting away from home makes it a good bit easier." He chuckles, "At least there's not likely to be random messengers popping up telling me there's something else to attend to." He tilts his head, curious, "And you, Captain?"

"Oh, you should not have said that.." replies the raven-haired young woman, adopting an expression of mock concern that's far from convincing. "You'll jinx us." She takes a leisurely sip of her drink, her own vivid eyes lingering on Corvin as he takes in their surroundings. "Though surely your sister's wedding festivities will provide you with similar 'entertainment', of a sort?" Ahh, masques. For the likes of he and Esyld, a cheerful tavern in another city will do. The nobility must so look forward to occasions when they can shed the formalities, if only for a night. As for her own amusement? A smile curves slowly across her lips, followed by a nod of assent. "I am, actually. Though it does remind me of what I must, inevitably, return to." Duties. Training. Being a stone-cold bitch. That sort of thing. "I suppose I can't put it off forever. I left my poor brother in the questionable 'care' of my quartermaster. I'm not certain how long he might be expected to endure it."

"Nobody here recognizes us, I think we're likely safe." Corvin notes, just a touch sardonically, before nodding, "It depends. Some years I get to partake of the Masque and others I'm busy playing security for it. Last year it was the latter. This year? I've no idea where father's mind is on the subject. Though in this particular matter if the Duchess wishes me away from the party, then I shall likely be so. Though I do not know that she would do so…certainly not out of spite, for which she seems to hold remarkably little towards me." He shrugs a shoulder, sipping his ale once more, "As for what we must return to…so it is with all such respites. Duty ever calls, but it's not so bad to forget about it for a few hours in pleasant company." He grins, then chuckles a bit, "Your quartermaster? The skinny girl with the constant glare of disapproval? I'd imagine she'd be well-paired with your brother…" Yes, he's teasing her as to the disagreeable nature of her brother.

"I've not heard yet whether any of the Foxes may be needed to bolster said security.." muses the Captain, "I'd certainly suggest it, given the nature of the union. I would hate for anything to go awry and ruin the Lady's celebration." Would she rather be there in uniform? Well, it's certainly unlikely she'd be invited to attend in one of the fanciful disguises. The mention of the Duchess, though, rouses her from her pondering. "I've never, in truth, been in a position to ask of your relationship with Duchess Mina. But she doesn't seem so frivolous and silly a creature as my own stepmother. It comes as no surprise to hear you say she doesn't bear an apparent grudge toward you. How enviable." For once, there's no particular bitterness in her tone on this subject. Titles and standing aside, she clearly has little interest in the Baroness of Bloodfield. Stupid woman. Esyld is not the sort to waste time on shallow creatures. Unless she's in a bad mood, anyway.

The mischievous tone Corvin takes, when it comes to her friend and her brother, elicits a fractional narrowing of her glacial eyes.. though the warning lacks any of the usual threat. Especially when she relents to a smirk a moment later. "Lorelei is sharp. She sees far more than she lets on, and, to date, she always has my best interests at heart. Likely why you identify her by the glare, hm?" She quirks a brow, pausing long enough to take a heftier drink. "As for Jon.. well, there's no such thing as a delicate t'Maren. There may be more sense in your suggestion than you intended, because she would certainly hold her own against him." As I do with you. The comparison isn't voiced but it's there in the amused glint of her gaze over the cup.

"Possibly in the city beyond. The Castle itself will be well attended to, I would wager. Between Wraiths and the usual house guards, though if father deems otherwise I'm sure your commander will find out in ample time to prepare." Corvin notes as to the matter of the Foxes providing additional security. "The Duchess knows that I know my place, and that her commands are second only to my father. We're not exactly warm, but there is no particular enmity between us." Corvin explains, shrugging a shoulder and sipping his ale once more, "And yes, the glare did seem rather omnipresent, though I'm taken aback that you still seem to think I do not have your best interests at heart." He doesn't actually seem upset, especially as there's a touch of humor to it all. "Your brother is not overly emphatic as to his station? I would imagine a common-born soldier trying to "hold her own" with a noble could lead them to a bad end rather quickly, with the wrong noble."

"A man looks to his own interests, first and foremost." replies the mercenary, though her tone is similarly light. "As does a woman, when her place permits it. Precisely why I will shout at you over Company matters, only to back off - " Not down, emphatically.. ".. a little when it comes down to us simply being two people. As a Captain, I'll stand my ground for what I think is right for my men. As a woman.. well." She leaves the rest unsaid, offering simply a vaguely beguiling smile across the table toward Corvin.

"Oh, my brother is more than emphatic about his station." Oh, there's even a faint grimace, the warmth of her expression a moment ago dwindling in the face of it. "..however, I asked him to keep an eye on things at the training grounds, in my absence. He enjoys any excuse to be out and active, as opposed to sitting about exchanging pleasantries. In that scenario, I made it plain the Lorelei knows best how to handle the running of the place. It will do him no harm to at least temporarily concede to a woman. It will stand him in good stead, should he ever marry." Certainly she doesn't seem the sort who expects wives to be gentle, retiring and obedient playthings. What a surprise. But then, she was raised more as a warrior than a lady. Following another sip, draining her cup, she shakes her head; cheering once more. "..Lorelei knows how to balance etiquette with her actual forthright opinions. Perhaps better than I do." A forefinger rises from her cup to gesture toward her companion. "..do not agree with that."

Corvin assumes an expression of such mock-innocence at that latter pre-admonishment that one might almost think he was genuinely offended at the notion, "Far be it from me…." He smirks then, finishing off his own ale, and setting the empty aside. "I would imagine your brother must marry at some point. He is the heir to House t'Maren and I doubt anyone is keen to see the line end in such a fashion." Corvin notes, shrugging a shoulder, "Such is the way of things." He smiles a touch, "I'll confess, I do rather seem to prefer Esyld the Woman. Though certainly I well understand that is not a mantle you would be permitted to wear at all times."

Esyld's gaze lingers elsewhere for a time as he speaks, her blue eyes seeking the attention of the server and, upon finding it, gesturing to the two empty cups on the table she's leaning on. Same again. The silent order is met with a nod. Then and only then does she return her focus to Corvin, lapsing to a rueful smile. "Sadly not. And I much prefer you when you're not.. no, that would be a lie. I still enjoy you, even when you're being an ass. It's most irksome, since usually my response would be to connect my fist with a man's jaw if he riled me so." Her lips tug to a wicked smirk. "..though the night is young yet."

"My brother will marry eventually." she continues, resting her jaw lightly in the cup of one palm and tracing an absent-minded pattern on the tabletop with a fingertip of the other hand. "Some nonsensical little thing my stepmother can control, no doubt."

"I would think your father would have more say in that." Corvin replies, sipping from the refilled mug with a faint smile, "If the night ends with you punching me, I think at this point I'd be sorely disappointed." He considers, "The t'Maren are fortunate among the vassals of the l'Saigner…more of the houses beyond our Duchy are willing to deal openly with them. For good reason, of course, but it should help his prospects considerably. I'm sure he'll get a good match." Unless her father bungles the whole affair, but he's not going to say that out loud, nor count it a strong likelihood.

"Mmm, and he'll do his 'duty' as a husband with the same fervor he does everything else. It's not him I pity, it's her." Esyld grins slightly, though it's obviously not really in her nature to make fun at the expense of her brother. When fresh drinks arrive she takes up hers almost unthinkingly - at that pleasant stage of mild intoxication where conversation takes precedence over concentrating on one's cup. "And ohh, I don't imagine that's how the night shall end. Not this time, at least. Perhaps when we return to Lonnaire, just to give people something to gossip about..?" They most certainly would, too. Not over the Black Fox Captain punching someone.. but at that someone being Corvin Fremont and her (presumably) getting away with it.

"I'm not generally one to invite gossip just for amusement's sake." Corvin notes with a chuckle, "Nor the type to allow myself to be punched without good cause." He considers a moment, around another sip of ale…this one will get him well to "pleasantly buzzed" he thinks, "Besides, it would inspire all the more to see us return in affection, were that the game we wanted to play." Corvin chuckles, "But somehow I don't think it will be that straightforward in either case."

Esyld taps her forefinger contemplatively against her cup, watching him. "..I am trying to imagine exactly what affection looks like on you, Corvin. It might inspire a ripple of fear throughout the populace." The thoughtful calm is broken by a rare grin, just for a moment, following the tease. "But no, you are quite right. Neither would be straightforward. It's a miracle, frankly, that Jon hasn't run to my father with his suspicions already." Tilting her head slightly askance, the young woman gazes unseeingly past her companion. "..I cannot quite decide whether he would care. Surely he has more important matters."

"I can't really fathom why it would be such a cause for concern. You're a grown woman, and if I may speak bluntly, I would say your family lost considerable weight when it comes to controlling you when you joined the Black Foxes." Corvin doesn't elaborate on the circumstances but there's something in his eyes that speaks of the fact that he knows most of the pertinent details. He actually tsks,"Your stepmother did not see your value. Short-sighted." He clears his throat. "Meaning no disrespect to her of course…" A beat, and then a smirk, "Well, perhaps a little."

For her part, the Captain snorts softly in amusement, then makes a vague, dismissive gesture with her free hand. "Bah. I'd never any interest in being a courtier. I'd have made a terrible one. Can you imagine?" Around them, the tavern is beginning to quiet down. The musician of earlier is happily counting his takings for the evening and those who remain seem content enough to engage in pleasant chatter around nearby tables. "I'd never any real value to them, in that capacity. But serving the l'Saigners, even in the way I do, I think is admirable enough to pass muster. My father has never seemed to doubt it. And Jon.. well, I think deep down he simply doesn't wish to see me hurt. He does care, even if he shows it poorly, at times."

"I didn't mean as a courtier. I meant as a warrior. Serving your house directly." Corvin shrugs, "No matter…I certainly can't complain overmuch over the turn of events, and yes, it is admirable." He smiles a touch, taking one more gulp of ale, "Funny. Your brother and I have more in common than he might think. I'm rather protective of my sisters as well. And even my brother…well…halves, all, but not so when it comes to the affection I feel for them." He smiles a touch wistfully, "But somehow I rather doubt we'll be bonding over such a similarity anytime particularly soon." He looks across the table at Esyld, a bit more seriously now, "So…what are we going to do?"

In the midst of another mouthful of her own drink, Esyld merely quirks a brow at first, then reveals a faint smile in agreement in regard to her brother. Arrogance is a familial trait and.. no, Jon likely won't accept any similarity drawn between him and the Duke's bastard. She wouldn't even try that route. "Sisters..?" she enquires, idly; perhaps only to buy herself a little more time before considering the rest. That's news to her. Though, she'd never given much thought to the notion of Corvin having kin outside of the two siblings she knows of herself. "The t'Maren are hardly short of Knights.." she points out, "..and even less ones that might bring embarassment by their mere existence. They've no use for me. But I shouldn't complain either."

With a soft sigh, the Captain sets down her cup, rubbing at the edge with a thumb and lowering her gaze. There's a lengthy pause. "I don't know. The idea of doing as I please and saying 'damn the consequences!' has it's appeal, certainly." She flicks a glance up toward him. "But.. having to be secretive about it, as if it were something to be ashamed of, does not. It's simply not in my nature." She looses a low-throated chuckle, shaking her head as she averts her eyes again. "That's something of an answer in itself, I suppose.."

"Yes. I have a half-sister from my father, and another from my mother. You've likely seen her many times without knowing it…she serves as a House Courtesan in the castle. Arianna is her name. A few years younger still than Alina." Corvin smiles, "I visit with her and my mother fairly regularly, as duty permits." Corvin explains, sipping his beverage a moment as Esyld speaks further, "Well, truly I had little notion of keeping anything particularly secret. There is, as you say, nothing to be shamed over." He laughs, a bit more brightly as he adds, "Especially as little in specific has so much as occurred." He doesn't seem to be looking for an "out" though, instead chuckling a bit, "I suppose the benefit of "damn the consequences" is that should such consequences arise we would likely know them in short order." He chuckles, eyes alight with a touch of merriment as he notes, "Beyond the deadly glare of disapproval from sibling and quartermaster alike, on your end."

The passing revelation of a previously unknown sibling appears to hold Esyld's interest, as it's offered. She does, at least, raise her gaze from the tabletop to convey she's listening. And a nod suggests she might even approve of him still being so close with his 'other' family. It's only when the topic shifts again, though, that his amusement is reflected. No, she doesn't laugh. But there's an equal mix of humor and.. something else entirely, when she offers a very simple postscript to his summary. "..yet." Allowing only a moment for that meaning to be gathered, Esyld then moves on; bold enough again to be holding the Wraiths gaze steadfast with her own. "I am well practiced in facing disapproval. If glares are the worst I can expect, then so be it." Her fingertips drum a soft stacatto on her cup, before she raises it toward him in silent toast, then knocks back the remainder of the contents with surprising ease.

"Yet." Corvin notes with a chuckle, lifting his mug, and following suit, draining the contents and setting it down with a smile, though he waves off the offer of another refill. He knows his limits, and while he could have a couple more before he's particularly impaired, he prefers not to go beyond a pleasant buzz. "Well then…" He grins altogether wickedly, though certainly lacking any genuine malice in the expression, "Should we perhaps continue this conversation upstairs?"

Esyld might actually have accepted another drink or two, if only to bolster her resolve or steady her nerves. She's outwardly calm, however. Even when there's that look from Corvin. "I suppose perhaps we should." Pushing her chair back and tossing a few coins to the tabletop as she rises in a fluid motion, the young Captain arches a brow, determinedly meeting his eyes again and offering a similarly daring twist of her lips in kind. "Though I should likely warn you.." she continues, stepping around and away from the table; the first half-step taken backward in order to keep the Commander in her sights, " ..there are no chairs in my room." With that, she pivots gracefully on a booted heel and walks unhurriedly away, not glancing back. He'll follow. Even if it's only the cling of her garments about her shapely legs that draws his eye. The gradually emptying tavern and her patrons take no notice of yet another pair taking their leave.

"What a shame. None in mine, either." Corvin notes. He does give her a bit of a head start. Enough that the other patrons may not even realize they're leaving together when he finally rises and moves to head up the stairs. He does rather enjoy the view as he goes, though. Hey, if they're going to offer eye candy, why not gobble it up while you can? As they reach the top of the stairs though, he does add, "Speaking of…yours or mine?"

Corvin moves down the upstairs hallway, peeking in the open door to Esyld's room (having waited at least a few moments before following after her). He steps inside and closes the door behind him, grinning more than just a bit as he glances about, "Well, this looks…remarkably similar to the room I've rented. Imagine that." He muses wryly, then turns his eyes from studying the room to more intently studying its' occupant, "And indeed…no chairs. Whatever shall we do?"

True enough, the rented room above the tavern is rather sparse in luxuries. Or, indeed, furnishings. An aged chest rests against one wall, serving as both storage and vanity with a basin and pitcher resting atop and an oval mirror so old the edges no longer reflect much of anything. It's here that Esyld stands currently, unhurriedly brushing her glossy dark hair by dim lamplight. The drawers of the chest would usually, one would expect, play host to clothing and other belongings.. but knowing the Fox Captain, she's little need of it. Her travelling leathers and the weighty harness bearing her sword are simply leant against the side of the sturdy piece, abandoned for the time being in favour of that standard longshirt and leggings she prefers when not on duty.

A single, modest window looks out onto the street below - a decent vantage point when not shuttered, as it is now. The remaining far side of the room - not that it's exactly large, one could cross it in a half dozen strides in any direction - plays host to a large and sturdy bed; carved of wood and comfortable looking, if nothing particularly special. Old, but clean and inviting blankets atop crisply laundered sheets and downy pillows. Hardly a palace but by far good enough for a weary sellsword.

Esyld doesn't glance round as her guest enters, well aware of who it is even if he doesn't go out of his way to make it apparent. Ignoring Corvin's teasing, only the hint of a smirk tugging at her lips, she eyes her reflection with little care as she finishes her task. "Tell me, Fremont.." Setting down her horsehair brush gently, she braces the heels of her hands on the cabinet's edge and finally turns cerulean eyes upon him, their hue oddly cast in the scant illumination of the room. Keeping her words soft, she asks the question that has been plaguing her for years.. and it's entirely unprovoked. "..are you really as dangerous as they say..?"

Corvin cants his head curiously, starting to slowly make his way across the room towards Esyld. The humor leaves his expression, though it's not shifted to anything that expresses distaste or disquiet at the seeming change in subject. When he reaches her, a callused hand reaching up and quite gently caressing her face. When he finally answers, it's with a tone that speaks of absolute certainty. No humor, no question, but also no menace or implicit threat. To his mind…a simple fact:


Incredibly enough, she seems to accept his answer. There's no sardonic twist of lips, no trace of any subtle implication to the contrary. She simply searches Corvin's eyes, up close, with a calm air of contemplation; fractionally leaning her cheek into the touch of his fingertips. "..I'd always assumed, when it came to having you entirely alone, it would be to test that theory." The admission is no less sincere than his own.

Turning from the chest of drawers slowly, she brings one hand up to lightly rest atop his own, allowing her dark lashes to drift downward as she turns to graze her lips softly across his palm. The sensation lingers a moment, before she looks back to him, those vivid eyes heavy-lidded and languid. "It would appear I was mistaken." Does that bother her? It seems not. For a time, there's no sound aside from the steady rise and fall of her breathing. Alone with - as she's considered privately before - perhaps the most dangerous man in Couviere.. and she's let her guard down, in every sense. It's intoxicating, for reasons she doesn't entirely comprehend, or question. Is it because she knows he's more of a threat than she is? Few men can make such a claim. Or is it the nagging thought that she's considering stepping far outwith the bounds of what's considered right? So many years spent cultivating a hatred of him and she's willing to set it aside? Perhaps she needs to remind herself why. Closing the distance between them, entangling her fingers with his until his knuckles and hers rest lightly at the side of her throat, Esyld relents into a flicker of her gaze from his eyes to his lips; close enough now that the soft sigh of her breath can surely be felt dancing across them.

The corner of Corvin's mouth quirks a bit at the admission that she thought it may well come to violence between them, but it doesn't settle into a smile, just that brief tic betraying any sense of amusement or surprise. "Well…I suppose I'll be grateful for that mistaken impression in this case." There the trace of amusement returns, but not mocking. Warm. He doesn't speak further though, watching her, listening to her, and when she draws close, kissing her. Much like those few they've shared before, to call it a passionate gesture may well be grossly underselling it. There's a palpable hunger to it, and to the way his free arm slips around her waist and pulls her against him. This time, it's he that punctuates it with the grazing of teeth against her lower lip. The slightest sting to momentarily break the intense kiss. Almost, perhaps, an inverse reflection of their relationship thus far, though that seems to evolving by the moment.

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