(1867-02-17) Caught Giving Gifts
Caught Giving Gifts
Summary: An unexpected encounter at the Cassomir Manse in Sunsreach, which holds surprises for both Aidric and Adrienne.
Date: 19-23/02/2016 (Date of RP)
Related: Of Finger-Paints and Monsters and previous Aidric/Adrienne logs, like Checking on the Wounded.
Aidric  Adrienne  

Cassomir Manse - Sunsreach - Rivana
The interior of the Cassomir estate is separated from the entry with a heavy, richly-carved wooden door, easily swung on well-oiled iron hinges. Inside, the stone walls, the foundation for the manor, are smoothed, squared and left in the neutral hue, obviously excavated by master stonemasons - strikingly rich in appearance. The arched ceiling, inlaid with the same russet wood that the door is cut from, adds a contrast, depth and elegance and is enhanced by the recessed lighting that causes the wood to glow warmly. Rich chandeliers and golden candle scones work together to embellish the arches all throughout the mansion.
Within, through spacious doors and hallways, a large parlor room offers the best place to meet with a great host. Natural lighting streams in from the large windows opening up the space to the view of the private gardens. Curtains of light ivory and soft sky tones, are available to conceal the room in intimate privacy if needed. The sitting room contains several fine couches upholstered in rich velvets with gold woven through the fabric. They are arranged around the perimeters and flanked by multiple cherry wood end tables. Polished volcanic tiles gleam with an ebony sheen - each laid carefully by the hand of a master stonemason throughout the rooms of this estate. Scattered here and there are thick, soft, handmade tufted floor rugs. Great book shelves made of redwood, inlaid with mastery of handcrafted designs, stand in the corners of the room, filled and massed with thickly bound books. Placed amongst the room, the odd treasure is displayed, all appear exotic and from different places around the West.
Hallways lead toward numerous guest rooms on the main floor. Each room has a decent sized bed, either a double or a queen, to house occupants who choose to stay in the manor house, with attached bathrooms, the largest of the rooms sporting full sized tubs.
Included in the manse is a well sized fully functional kitchenette with wooden cabinets of the same pale-hued sandalwood. A complete porcelain dish set fills one of the cupboards, another filled with the finest dishware in all the lands, while another contains a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Other rooms tend to lean toward specific purposes, such as an armory, a dining hall, a private library and studies, and the quarters for the servants and guards on duty.
Fevrier 17th, 1867

Aidric Carling and his man Scarecrow arrive at the Cassomir manse on a bright and chilly morning with the brisk wind tugging at the lord’s fox fur mantle. Expected, Aidric and his guardsman are admitted to the manse without challenge and soon find themselves in the foyer, where the Carling knight divests himself of his gloves and puts them in his belt, rubbing his bare hands together to warm them up.

“Alright,” he says to the straw haired man-at-arms at his side. “Give me the gifts for my daughter, I won’t be long,” Aidric holds out his hands for the packages the other man carries and finds them presented in short order. He frowns then, not sure if he should enter the manse and find his daughter or wait for someone to greet him. Indeed, were there any Cassomirs in residence? With the hunt being not so long ago, it’s possible they were all still in Ironhold.

“Damn it,” he mutters, wishing he had been more explicit in arranging this visit.

What was she doing in Sunsreach again? Adrienne Cassomir had obviously returned. Of course there was some necessity to now and then appear at court? Or was it the opportunity to meet with Princess Clara Tracano to indulge in a bit of late-teen chatter about topics that would make the both of them blush? As had been the case on their last encounter in a more private setting. And as a Cassomir, this freckled Huntress would of course stay in the manse of her family during her time at the Capital.

She is actually on her way out, coming down the stairs attired in Huntress tunic and leggings, her dark brown hair worn as usual in a braid, her fine hunting dagger at her belt, and a cloak bulging about her form as she draws the hood up over her head.

But then she freezes mid-way towards the door that leads outside, as Adrienne almost bumps into an all too familiar fellow. Green eyes widen, and her jaw drops in astonishment. "Aidric? How did you know I was here…?" When she actually has arrived just on the late afternoon of the previous day. It is clear she assumes the Carling must have come to visit her. Her gaze drops to the packages in Aidric's hands and she raises a brow. "Just… what is this…?"

Adrienne's voice causes Adric to freeze midstep, like a wayward page caught neglecting his duties. He glances up, passing his parcels back to Scarecrow, giving him a second to think. "I didn't know but how long have you been back in the city, and were you going to tell me that you were here?" he asks meeting a question with a question.

That caught look is noted, Adrienne studying Aidric with a curious if slightly bewildered gaze, that shifts to the parcels next as they are handed back to Scarecrow, to whom she will offer a brief nod of greeting. His question, while perhaps intended as a clever manoeuvre to distract her from his presence at the Cassomir Manse, does exactly the opposite. Countering his counter with a new inquiry, the Cassomir looks at the Carling with slight astonishment. "Wait. You didn't know, I was here?" Her brows lift above her expressive eyes that give Aidric an inquisitive stare. "Who were you intending to visit, then?" Here, at the Cassomir Manse? "With presents?" She straightens as her arms cross before her, and a new expression joins the others already present in her bearing and features. A shadow of distrust. Brows wrinkle ever so slightly. Still, she finally graces him with an answer, offered in a flat voice. "I just arrived yesterday. I was going to tell you. Just didn't get to it yet."

The look of distrust rankles Aidric and it shows in his eyes as he turns to look at her. "If you must know I have business for Sir Donal's ward," he says, the ward in question a girl of four, whom Adrienne may have noted among the household children. "He authorized the visit, I didn't know you were here," he replies in an equally flat tone. "I can come another time if that would be better, or should I remain to be questioned like a common felon?"

Maybe it is just the unexpectedness of this encounter, that makes Adrienne react in an odd manner. "Sir Donal?", she echoes, brows lifting as she tries to make sense of Aidric's words. "His ward? Little… Casella?" The name offered after a moment, as the Cassomir stares at the Carling, still not quite comprehending. "What business has a former Thorn to come and pay my uncle's ward a visit?", she asks. Her lips purse at his rather grumpy reply. "You shall remain," Adrienne remarks then, with a faint glint in her green eyes. "Questioned. As I want answers." The latter offered with a slight softening of her stoic features, as curiosity gets the best of her. Maybe it is also the shock of seeing him suddenly here wearing off. "I am of course… glad to see you." Adding that at least, with a slight hint of bewilderment in her tone.

Aidric’s face remains set in stone as his listens to Adrienne’s words, he casts a glance behind him, at the door, considering departing, before he makes himself turn back to face her. “I’m glad to see you too,” he remarks, his tone quiet. “And yes, Casella. She’s my daughter,” he says, those last words coming more hurriedly than the rest. He glances about their surroundings, “We should probably deal with the inevitable questions somewhere other than the foyer,” he suggests.

Adrienne's brows lift as high as they can, astonishment there evident in her gaze at his casually offered information, for as casually as it was offered, it has not escaped her notice. "Your… daughter…?", the freckled Cassomir echoes, needing a moment to digest the fact obviously. Then, a nod follows belatedly to his suggestion of discussing the matter elsewhere, while thoughts are racing in her head.

A twitch of Cassomir brows, then a brief shake of her head as if that helped getting some order in the chaos raging there. Green eyes blink, before Cassomir stoicness settles in, and with it her manners return.

"I had no idea…", Adrienne says with a faint smile. "But I suppose those questions can surely wait, as you have business to see to? Come along, I'll take you to the salon, while I send someone to find dear Casella." That /someone/ turns out to be a passing servant, who already hurries off once he has caught the subtle suggestion.

Aidric inclines his head stiffly, “Yes, my daughter,” he says lifting a thumbnail, which he worries with his teeth before he catches himself and stops. “She’s been living here, for various reasons,” he explains. His own thoughts are a tumble and when Adrienne takes a moment to steady herself he takes a moment for himself, waving Scarecrow off for the moment. This encounter was embarrassing enough without an audience.

When Adrienne’ smiles, even a little, it throws him off balance. He had been prepared for a fight. He frowns a little in response and begins to follow her towards the salon. “We don’t need to send for my daughter, I am sure you have a lot to ask of me, and I can see my daughter after that.” And avoid what was to be an awkward reunion with his flesh and blood in front of Adrienne.

Adrienne's gaze flits downward as she listens to Aidric Carling's explanations, and her hand moves to fidget with her braid. Her smile is faint, polite, but there is a twinkle of realization in her eyes as she regards him. "Oh, we do!", need to send for his daughter, she contradicts, raising her brows in a slightly resolute manner. "You came to see her. And…" Here her gaze shifts to Scarecrow and the gifts he is carrying. "You've brought some things for her. I may have questions, but those can wait until later." Even if the glance the freckled Cassomir gives him is indeed very curious. Entering the salon, she gestures for Aidric to take a seat. "I will see you after you've had your time with Casella," she says then, her hand brushing his arm casually as she moves past him on her way towards the door.

Aidric lets out a huff of air through his nostrils at the compromise he’s faced with, but manages to accept with a nod of his head even if it does come with a narrowing of his pale green eyes as Adrienne brushes past. He is not left to stew long before a girl of four years old is ushered in, dark haired, green eyed, and very quiet. She stares up at Aidric a moment before she, as best as a child her age can manage, curtsies, and utters “Father,” in a quiet voice.

The Carling looks at his daughter a moment before offering, a slight, stiff nod and a “Daughter,” before he turns to Scarecrow to bring forward the gifts.

* * *

An hour passes before Casella is returned to her chambers with a new doll and several bolts of clothes her caretaker can turn into dresses for her. With her gone, Aidric ponders a quick escape without the questions and answers, but in the end finds a servant and sends them to find Adrienne and let her know he awaited her.

It takes a few moments before the freckled Cassomir arrives, this time without the cloak and the hunting dagger, but still attired in a plain tunic and leggings. She enters with a faint smile, and then sends the servant off to bring them some refreshments - a bit of wine, and a bit of cheese and bits of smoked ham. It is when the servant is gone that she raises her voice to address Aidric, as she walks over to where he is in the room, regardless whether he is sitting or standing. "Here I am," stating the obvious as she comes to stand before him, raising a brow. "Now you can explain." Her voice does not show any anger, but there is a flicker in her green eyes… curiosity, awkwardness, maybe even a faint hint of turmoil. But there is also the smile that curves her lips, moderate, but still there.

Aidric had removed his mantle during his visit with his daughter and when Adrienne arrives, he is standing by the window. He turns at her arrival and meets her curious gaze more calmly than he might when he first ran into her. He even manages a smile. “What do you want to know?” he asks plainly, leaning against the window sill.

Adrienne looks up into his face, her hands moving to her hips as she considers his question. "If Casella," she begins, "is your daughter, where is her mother?" She bites her lip. "Who is she?" The question leaves her before she can hold it back. "Even if it may be none of my business…"

Aidric expected that question, but even so, it brings up some unpleasant memories. He worries his thumbnail again for a few seconds before he catches himself with a slight bah, then speaks. “She’s dead if that puts your mind at ease,” he says lowering his hand from his mouth. “Almost two years now. She was a commoner besides, a knight’s daughter, from when I was a prisoner at Whitewalls after the Haldis turned.” He flexes that lowered hand and while the words spill out he does not look comfortable about it.

Adrienne remains standing as she is, before the Carling, as he does not seem to show any inclination to sit down. When he begins, her brows jump upwards, astonished perhaps less by the information than by the way it is brought forth in. "Why do you say that? It does /not/ put my mind at ease. And… I am sorry, Aidric." The latter offered a bit hesitatingly, perhaps. But it made more sense then, Casella being someone's ward, even if it happened to be her own uncle. Her gaze takes on a pensive expression, her eyes flitting temporarily down, when the Cassomir takes in what the former Thorn tells her. Thoughts drifting through her mind, implications of the few details given. "I see.", Adrienne says after a moment as her eyes lift to seek his gaze, her arms crossing before her. The faint considering smile still present on her freckled features.

“Does it not?” Aidric asks, of the information. Why ask that question but to see if some other woman had a hold on him? The condolence is met with a nod, his lips turning downward slightly as he processes it. Had anyone said that about his former lover’s death before? He couldn’t remember if they had. He didn’t talk about it much. “You see?” he asks after Adrienne’s remark, puzzled by the smile and the crossed arms. “And can you be more unreadable? I am not sure if you are pleased or angry,” he says a touch peevishly as he takes in her expression and stance.

"I am neither pleased nor angry," Adrienne counters with a slight roll of her eyes. "I'm just… surprised. That's all. It is not like I knew you had… a daughter." Expressing it diplomatically. "And that this daughter of all would live beneath this roof." What he perceives as an expression that is hard to read, may as well be as much a riddle to herself. "I am in no position to wish any woman ill who has shared your bed over the years.", Adrienne continues then, as she tries to show more emotion and conveying more warmth in her gaze, when accused of being unreadable. "But of course… a woman who has carried your child in her womb, and given birth to it…" She shakes her head, not further pursuing that train of thought. "It seems to be a sad tale, and you don't have to share more, if you don't wish to." Her green eyes shift towards the window as she considers further.

"How did this come about?", the freckled Cassomir inquires then, after a moment. "That Donal actually agreed to take care of the child…?" Trying to bring some order into her thoughts, Adrienne continues to fidget with the end of her braid.

Aidric moves away from the window sill to pace. “Well, given that we were just enjoying each other’s company, can you blame me for not mentioning it? Somewhat ruins the mood don’t you think?” he asks as he returns to his nervous chewing of his nail for a moment. He makes no comment about his past with Casella’s mother, instead focusing on the next question, the details, rather than the messy past and feelings. “The Queen arranged it,” he says. “I wanted my child cared for in a good home and my task for the Queen needed my loyalty to be in question, so we arranged for her to be a hostage for my good behavior, at least on paper. In truth her care was my reward for my service.” He explains as he paces. “The Queen got the better end of it of course.”

There is a brief tensing of her brows, when Aidric defends himself for not bringing it up earlier. "Oh… I understand quite well, really. It is not the sort of topic that recommends itself for easy conversation," she remarks, green eyes observing his nervous nail biting for a moment. It is when he explains the Queen's involvement, that her eyes widen and she lets out a soft exhale. "Impressive. A double layered tactic, then? To outwardly discredit you as a courtier in need of 'guidance' through taking your child as hostage to a famed Rose follower House?" Her arms uncross before her, and she takes a step towards Aidric, but pacing as he is currently, the proximity may only be a temporary one. "Casella is in good hands," Adrienne assures, as her freckled features soften into a more pronounced smile. "But I fear, she might get smitten by the strong family sense of the Cassomirs… Aren't you worried about it at all?" This said in obvious tease and reference to a previous conversation they had shared.

Aidric stops and turns towards Adrienne. “Something like that,” he says of the deception. “The idea was it to make it look like I was compelled to work through the Queen rather than be her willing servant. It was supposed to bring out any traitors, but didn’t. Still, I got what I asked for out of it.” He notes the smile and the tease and while his expression remains serious there is some acknowledgement of it. “That was my hope,” he admits of the Cassomir sense of family. “After all who better to take her in and show her kindness than a family entirely too fond of one another and commoners?” he asks a corner of his lips curling upwards with the remark.

A slow nod comes, when Adrienne acknowledges the strategy laid out by the former Thorn. "It seems to have served two purposes well," she says, as she cants her head and meets his gaze with her own. His next remark however will draw a chuckle from her lips, the freckled Huntress shaking her head in amusement. "So very true, Aidric. Beware. We shall spoil her.", said with a slight mock glare. "So… this has been an open secret obviously? One I have completely missed out on."

Aidric nods. “Worked out well for me at least,” he says of the arrangement, some of his native cockiness returning to him as it seems the worst of the discussion had passed. “And yes it seems you have, and here I thought you Huntresses were perceptive,” he teases before he says. “Though not much was made of it by design, better for her if she’s not widely known as a Thorn’s bastard,” he says before he offers a small roll of his eyes, “And I am fairly sure your family will spoil her, Emilia is already offering to teach her to paint.”

The tease earns him another faint glare of the Huntress. “It’s not like I ever thought about asking Donal and Alaina out on Casella’s origins… But yes. My fault for neglecting such a detail, your fault…”, her hand comes forward in a light punch against his upper arm, easily to be intercepted if he intends to, “for making me look like a fool by keeping this information from me.” Even so, her lips are curled in a faint smile, when this Cassomir admits: “I can’t say I dislike this new side to your character… And that you’d actually admit, our Cassomir ways and family sense can actually be useful.” A brow is raised, when Aidric mentions Emilia’s offer. “Oh?”

“Well, you said we were doing what we were for our enjoyment, it seemed like bringing up my daughter was contrary to that goal,” Aidric counters with a teasing glare of his own. “But we covered that, and my purpose was not to make you look like fool.” The rest is met with a sardonic smile as he moves to stand in front of Adrienne. “Oh? And what side is that?” he asks before Emilia is brought up. “I asked her for some advice about Casella once, they have something in common, and since then she’s agreed to help Casella learn to paint… with fingers… for now.”

"I admit, it may not have been the first thing coming to mind," Adrienne allows, that glare dimming at once when Aidric continues about not wanting to make her look like a fool. "Oh well…" Her shoulders lift in a shrug, and suddenly the glare is completely gone, a glint instead there in her green eyes as they watch the Carling rise to his feet. "The side of a father who is decent enough to pay his daughter visits - even if she is just his bastard.", she remarks softly, raising a brow. When he explains about Emilia's painting lessons, Adrienne smiles, even if a bit pensively. "That sounds like a delightful pastime for little Casella. And I'd wager Emilia's new duties as Mistress of the Hunt might require her to visit Sunsreach more often."

“A father…” Aidric repeats finding the word, when applied to him strange despite it being true these past four years. “I suppose I am that,” he admits, if not the reasons for such care. Then he smiles “She seems to enjoy it, as does Emilia strangely enough,” he shakes his head, “Finger painting…” he gives Adrienne a look as if to say, ‘no wonder they say she’s touched’ and then nods in agreement. “I suspect. Though it would be good if she made a habit of bringing you with her,” he gently strokes her cheek then. “For various reasons.”

"Emilia's at Castle Roseguard," Adrienne smiles beneath the touch of Aidric's fingers. "She is still recovering from the injuries suffered during the hunt. So I came on my own, and an errand from our Viscountess, and because…" Her green eyes gleam as they meet his in such close proximity, "I wished to pay some calls to good friends and the like." She straightens and backs away just a touch, freckled features warming in a genuine smile. "How are your injuries, by the way? Have you fully recovered?"

Aidric’s hand closes on air as Adrienne backs away. He nods of Emilia’s whereabouts and then asks: “And which am I? Close friends, or the like?” he teases as he leans against the wall, glancing down at his chest. “Healing,” he remarks. “Much better than when we last spoke.” Indeed he is moving with none of the stiffness he did in the sickroom at Roseguard. “Had too much to do to stay injured and I used some alchemicals.”

“I’m not sure…?”, Adrienne quips. “Maybe I need to find out what exactly you are… But right now I’d say… The like.” And as Aidric is leaning so comfortably against the wall, she moves beside him, hands folding before her as she shoots him a sideways glance. “I understand. I’m glad you feel better. Maybe…” A pause there as teeth catch the bottom lip, before she starts anew. “Maybe you’d be agreeable if I’d paid you a call then. As courtesy demands.”, the freckled Cassomir intones then with a lift of a brow and a daring twinkle in her eyes. “That is… if your schedule is not too busy.”

Aidric nods and looks over as Adrienne joins him by the wall. “I can live with that,” he says of her decision before allowing himself to smile at the rest. “I think I could manage to host a guest as long as they came alone,” he says before asking. “Would that be agreeable?”

Her brows lift at his suggestion, as she turns her head to regard Aidric fully. “I would not wish to cause too much fuss, so yes… I believe such would be possible.”, Adrienne smiles; a slightly odd smile that, where lips curve despite the lower one being caught by her teeth. “I am to head back to Roseguard in a few days, so I’d better pay my call rather sooner than later. How is your schedule, Sir Aidric? Would there be a certain time when I’m likely to encounter you at your manse?”, she inquires with a hint of mischief in her tone.

Aidric turns towards Adrienne as well, stepping closer. “I am free tonight,” he says, smiling. “If that is not too soon?” his brows raise with the question.

"I don't have anything planned for tonight," Adrienne confesses, meeting his gaze with a sparkle in her own. "Will I be required to wear a dress? Or will my usual attire do?", she asks, somewhere between a tease and actually leaving him the option of naming his preferred choice.

Were it not for the sudden knock at the door, Adrienne would have been standing that close to Aidric for a bit longer. But as it is, the sudden interruption has her shift just a tad away from him, when a servant enters, the belated arrival of which is waved off with a gesture of her hand. "You can take it back to the kitchen, as our guest will be leaving anyway in a moment," Adrienne addresses the man with her stoic mien back in place. "But I thank you anyway." Her gaze shifts from the departing servant towards Aidric. "As I have an appointment for tonight apparently, I need to see to some matters beforehand. And you as well, I suppose?"

“I think your usual attire will do,” Aidric says grinning and brushing his fingers on Adrienne’s cheek. Then there is that knock and he jumps back a step and arranges himself into a casual stance. “Indeed, I do have plans tonight. Thank you for your kind welcome and I hope it is progress towards a greater rapprochement between former adversaries,” he says smoothly as he bows. “But for now, take care Lady Adrienne, I hope your evening proves diverting.” Then he strides from the room with a cursory nod to the servant as he passes.

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