(1867-08-06) Amid the Ruins
Amid the Ruins
Summary: Both t'Maren trained. Both veterans of war. Who would you put your money on, in a bout between Esyld and Vorian?
Date: 08-06-1867
Related: None
Players:
Esyld  Vorian  

Ruins of Alain's Rest

The trek to Alain's Rest isn't too long from the city proper. After all, the ruins are visible from the castle and the city, a mute testament to the ruthlessness of the family that rules the duchy and what they are willing to do even to their own.

The ruined keep casts eerie shadows. Crumbled stones, still blackened from decades-old flames, are scattered around the old keep, which reaches into the sky like a broken clawed hand, grasping towards the sky. A few twisted, gnarled oaks that show the evidence of so many years prior being scorched and marred by guttering flames gather around the grounds as if paying a mute testament to the destruction. Trailing vines of ivy crawl over tumbled stones and those still standing alike.

The wind blows through the jagged, broken crenallations, making a low moaning and whistling noise… likely the source of noise that makes the local commonfolk insist that the place is haunted.

The main keep is still mostly intact, though surrounded by the shattered stones from one of the collapsed towers (as well as having a large chunk of one side crushed by the same tower). The old main entryway is blocked by a pile of cracked and burnt stone; but the side entrance once used by servants gapes open, revealing the blackened smoke and soot patterns around the empty doorway that gapes into the pitch blackness beyond into a yawning chasm of darkness. Once there were a trio of stone stairs leading up to the door, but now the stone stairs have been crumbled by time and the steady push of plantlife.

08-06-1867 IA

Early morning in Lonnaire, the sky still tinged with the lingering grey of a dawn not long departed, mists reluctantly rolling back across the moorland, sees the usual bustle of activity at Highwater Castle. Servants scurry about, preparing for the ruling family to break fast, guards relieve one another of duty, Wraiths.. do whatever it is that Wraiths do. Probably best not to speculate on that matter. As for Esyld, granted a day or two to settle back in following the visit to Bloodfield, she's chosen to spend her morning, unsurprisingly, with a bout of training. Bereft of the Black Foxes and the training regime she has become used to over the better part of a decade, she's found another avenue in which to direct her energies.. and frustration.

The arrangements were made, as promised, for Vorian and his men to be presented to Lord Gabriel. And she has absolute faith in them. But it's also in her nature to desire to gain the measure of the man. It's only fair. The same way wolves assert the ranking within the pack, the Captain has a pressing need to know her place… and to assert it, needs be. A messenger would have approached the t'Maren Knight swiftly after his arrival in the city, with a note that invited him to a spar in the ruins, the following morning. Bold. But that's Esyld for you. There doesn't seem to be any question that he will oblige, either. The leather-clad young woman is perched, for the time being within the main keep, atop what remains of the ruined stairs; idly skinning an apple with a bone-handled knife, occasionally sliding a piece direct from the wickedly sharp metal into her mouth.

Yes, it's a fine day to get a little exercise.

The t'Maren knight is easy enough to find — look for the common room of the cheap inn where he has put his men up. Yes, indeed, all eleven soldiers are sleeping on the floor of the commons. Vorian's only luxury, the only treat that he holds solely to himself, has been a steaming hot bath the night before, followed by a long thirty minutes trimming and oiling his beard. The man might love soldiering, might love his comrades, but he loves himself too. And so, when the message arrives, he is still in the bath, steam half-hiding the text of the note. He reads the missive with a broad, cat-contented smile, before returning to his grooming. The next morning, he awakens early and shovels in a hearty breakfast.

"Talbot. Give me a hand." The blond-haired man helps him into his training leathers, strapping several buckles that the lean knight simply cannot reach. Slinging his shield and taking his helm under his arm, Vorian smiles at the other. "I'll be back before noon. Tell the others to clean themselves up best as they can and tend to their kit. We need to look our best today." Says the man about to go get sweaty. Talbot smiles at him, mangled head tilting to one side for a moment like a curious dog's. All he says, however, is "Have fun, Sir Vorian."

A little while later, the knight steps into the ruins. Well, he pauses in the entryway for long enough to scan the area, a caution inherent in his movements. When he spots Esyld, he lifts his left hand in salute and steps forward.

"Good morning for it," he calls agreeably. And he settles his helm onto his head, strapping it in place as he walks toward the base of the stairs. His eyes never leave the dangerous mercenary-cum-bodyguard, but there's no wariness there. A certain interest, perhaps. A curiosity to see what comes next.

"Relax, m'Lord.." Esyld's tone is languid, almost bored, as she notes the man hovering on the threshold without so much as an upward flit of those unnaturally blue eyes. "..if any of us wished you dead, you wouldn't have awoken this morning. Or your bath would have taken on a decidedly.. /crimson/ hue." Does.. she actually /know/ these details, or is she simply making educated guesses to unsettle him? It's impossible to tell. Particularly when, at last, she raises her head and offers an unperturbed smirk. The skin of her apple is discarded, set aside on the stone in one neat, singular spiral, and she carves off another piece of the fruit to pop into her mouth as she watches Vorian approach. One knee is bent higher than the other and upon this she rests an elbow; the very picture of nonchalance.

"I trust the accommodations are suitable?" It's a perfectly pleasant enquiry, accompanied only by an innocent quirk of one brow. But Esyld is different here. Gone is the rough-edged, carefree bastard of Bloodfield, replaced with a woman as intimidating as she is charismatic. Rising gracefully to a stand in a smooth motion, she descends the steps toward the knight, slicing off a small sliver of apple and offering it politely toward him.

Whether he accepts the morsel or not, she merely nods in agreeable assent, strolling by him. "It is. I hope I'm not keeping you from anything pressing.. but I /would/ prefer to see what you can do for myself. It'll put my mind at rest. I'd hate to think I'd recommended some glorified stablehand to my Lady's husband." It's a blatant tease, intended to at least mildly insult his masculine pride. "So. How's your bareknuckle? I know you've skill with a blade, that goes without saying.." She waves dismissively, as if such things were easily come by. "..but if you are to serve the l'Saigners, you best be able to think on your feet." Reaching a clear area of the floor, with only a few broken flagstones underfoot, she sheathes her dagger and tosses away the core of her apple as she turns to face Vorian again, inviting him toward her with nothing more than a calm smile.

"Perfectly acceptable. Thank you." Vorian declines to acknowledge that invitation to relax, that half-threatening invitation. But his eyes sparkle with subdued humor as he steps in closer to Esyld, lowering his mouth to take the apple slice with his teeth. He looks up, winking, the insolence written plain across his bearded features. Absently licking his lips, the man takes a few steps back, unstrapping his sword-belt and laying it aside as Esyld paces by him. And then he lays his shield down, looking just a touch regretful.

"There's nothing pressing to tend to this morning," he says cheerfully. "Well, apart from this." Twisting side-to-side, the knight limbers up just a bit. After all, he's going to be fighting a woman with quite the reputation. "I can handle myself decently," he says after a few moments. Tugging his gauntlets off, he lays them neatly atop the shield. If he's riled by that tease, it only shows in the way his chin lifts as he straightens and walks forward.

But he's not reckless — he keeps out of the smaller woman's immediate reach, glancing around briefly to note the 'terrain'. "Any rules?" The question is perfectly innocent, but both of them know that no, there are no rules. There never are when the real danger comes, either. Raising his hands, he says, "Whenever you're ready."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=Hands Vs Vorian=Hands
Esyld: Good Success
Vorian: Failure
Net Result: Esyld wins - Solid Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=Hands Vs Vorian=Hands
Esyld: Good Success
Vorian: Good Success
Net Result: DRAW

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=Hands Vs Vorian=Hands
Esyld: Good Success
Vorian: Success
Net Result: Esyld wins - Marginal Victory

The extent of Esyld's limbering appears to be that short walk, then an almost absent-minded roll of her shoulders, a crick of her neck to one side. And she can't help but smile as the larger man stays warily just beyond her reach. Yes, she's a mercenary - or was - but she's not /that/ unfamiliar with the etiquette of a brawl, thank you very much. Settling herself into an easy stance, bringing her fists up before herself, the woman treads a slow, calculating circle; expression sobering as she focuses on watching her opponent.

Still there's always time for mockery. "Rules? Like what? Worried about your pretty nose, are you?" There's barely a splitsecond for reaction before she snaps out a jab, landing a first strike on his jaw almost to punctuate her sardonic words. It's not got much weight behind it… it's more a warning. A reminder that yes, she /can/ sidestep his defenses. And he'd best not forget it.

"You think it's pretty?" Vorian barely has time to ask the question before the woman is on him. Gods, she's fast — it's like fighting an eel. The man clearly knows how to handle himself, but he isn't quick enough to stop that jab from rocking his head back. And that's enough of a warning that he's in a real fight now. He flicks a jab of his own, catching only air.

But it seems the jab was really just an attempt to buy him some time as he backpedals, narrowly avoiding a hard body-hook from Esyld. He circles to the left, trying to get on Esyld's weak side, his elbows in tight against his body, hands raised. If it weren't for that beard, it's likely there'd be a red mark rising on his jaw. "This takes me right back, doesn't it?" pushing her luck. %r

"Not for long, unless you get that guard up." replies Esyld, not seeming bothered that her next strike misses. They're only toying with one another for now. But, in her experience, it's never long before those initial, testing strikes end up in frustration and real bruises. Like that time she nearly broke Corvin's ribs. Not that he'd have any recollection of such a thing, of course. And she doesn't brag about it either, credit where it's due. Most people who hear any such rumour laugh it off and that's fine. "How long has it been since you had to fight without a blade, m'Lord..?" she enquires, all innocence as she keeps that predatory circle going.

She's well aware of his seeking a weakness in her defenses. Good luck with that. And even the use of his title, under the circumstances, seems baiting rather than respectful. In proper company, she'll defer.. of course she will. But here and now? No. She wants to see how far she can push before he retaliates. Stepping inward suddenly, she places a booted foot to a spot behind his heel, almost casually unbalancing Vorian if she can before slapping just the /tips/ of her fingers across his other cheek in a backhand. Silent reprimand. "Get your guard /up/." Years spent training recruits shows itself in her tone. She's not expecting argument, even if she /is/ pushing her luck.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=Hands Vs Vorian=Hands
Esyld: Amazing Success
Vorian: Success
Net Result: Esyld wins - Crushing Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=Hands Vs Vorian=Hands
Esyld: Good Success
Vorian: Great Success
Net Result: Vorian wins - Solid Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=Hands Vs Vorian=Hands
Esyld: Great Success
Vorian: Good Success
Net Result: Esyld wins - Marginal Victory

"Since I fought someone as good as you? My life." Vorian is trying, he really is. And the damnable thing about it is that he's a perfectly competent fighter — most men would have a hard time slapping him around as easily as Esyld is doing here. He raises his guard further, his features flushed beneath the beard. That slap finally penetrated his pride, sending home just how poorly he's performing. And so he closes in, apparently intending to use his bulk to his advantage.

And walks right into a wicked cross to the jaw. It's fortunate that he's leaning forward into the blow, or it would've sent him flying backward. As it is, it certainly 'rings his bell'. Blood drips down from a split lip. Just for a moment, his guard drops, as though he's forgotten what he's doing. But then he remembers. And he growls.

Momentum restored, the wiry young man closes quickly, his hands coming up to cradle the back of Esyld's head and heave her in against his chest, where — hopefully — she will have less leverage to rain these punishing blows on him. And in the same moment, he hooks a leg behind hers, bearing them both down to the ground. Vorian lands atop Esyld and is instantly struggling to achieve the mount, hampered by the fact that his left leg is still entangled in her own.

Maybe the backhand was a step too far. Maybe. But the audible *CRACK* as she slings a blow across Vorian's jaw only briefly precedes a feral laugh from the Captain; barely leashed glee coming to the fore as her blood gets up.. and as his is spat to the flagstones. This is what she lives for. Hell, it's what she /is/. Esyld is never so at peace as when she's in the midst of war. Maybe it's a t'Maren trait. But more likely it's a mark of her upbringing here in Lonnaire.

Still. Best not to get cocky. The sudden grasp within her dark tresses catches her, admittedly, by surprise. That's an accomplishment in itself! The fact that, in the next instant, Vorian has her off-balance and toppling? That's just a fucking insult. The mercenary snarls as her back lands hard against the ground, but she too is immediately seeking the advantage; squirming and twisting as she strives to find some purchase. One booted heel digs into a mossy patch by a cracked and uneven flagstone and that's all she needs, heaving with a buck of her hips and scrambling out from under the knight's considerable weight.

And to where does she scramble? Why, to her sword, of course. Drawing it without ceremony from the belt and scabbard she'd abandoned earlier near a pile of stones, she grasps the long hilt in both hands and whirls to face her opponent, looking genuinely and horrifyingly enraged now. She's not. But an icy glare from /those/ eyes? They'd demand pause from even the most seasoned of fighters. Shaking a few errant wisps of ebon hair out of her face, she readies herself - still honorable enough at least to grant him time to fetch his own weapon. A small kindness.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=One Hand Blades Vs Vorian=One Hand Blades
Esyld: Success
Vorian: Good Success
Net Result: Vorian wins - Marginal Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=One Hand Blades Vs Vorian=One Hand Blades
Esyld: Good Success
Vorian: Good Success
Net Result: Vorian wins - Marginal Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=One Hand Blades Vs Vorian=One Hand Blades
Esyld: Good Success
Vorian: Great Success
Net Result: Vorian wins - Marginal Victory

Vorian's blood is up, too. That slap — that humiliating slap — has turned this from a friendly spar into a real fight. As she's struggling to get free, he's doing everything in his power to keep her down there beneath him, grinding with his hips in a manner that, in any other circumstance, would be so far beyond inappropriate. But here, now? It's his only chance at holding on. And he loses it, when her foot finds enough traction to create space and allow her to wriggle free.

He's a touch slower scrambling for his own weapon, but only a touch. Not wasting time getting to his feet, he rolls aside and grabs the hilt of his sword, ripping it free of his scabbard. And now he hurls himself upright, teeth bared. He meets that stare with one of his own — but it certainly disconcerts him. So much so that his first lunge, which may have caught Esyld square on the chest, falters a bit. Instead, it grazes the smaller woman along her left arm.

And as he spins to the side, parrying a lightning-fast riposte from Esyld, it's obvious that at least here he can hold his own. He deflects her sword wide, coming in low with a slash that grazes along her left thigh. And then, even as he drops back to a guard position, a high lunge that manages to tap a shoulder, though it's real purpose is to keep the woman from following too quickly.

A grin bares Esyld's teeth, though there's no warmth to the expression, not even when she offers a wryly cutting remark. "Feel better?" This in regard to the sword now held in his hand. Adjusting her grip, seeming to master that indignant swell of temper - or at least restraining it enough to disguise - Esyld's riposte is indeed lightning-fast. But this is not a preferred style.. it's a necessity. With the blade knocked aside, and a pointed scrape made along her thigh, the brunette backs off a fraction. /Only/ a fraction. And only to reassert her footing.

The tap to her shoulder is followed up with a growling sweep of her longsword, a clatter of metal resounding off the scorched and blackened walls of the ruin. Oh, he wants to keep her back? Hah. Seizing any oopportunity to get /Vorian/ on the back foot - seeing as he just came perilously close to finding such an advantage over her - the azure-eyed mercenary advances, obviously now committed to dealing some damage in retribution.


<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=One Hand Blades Vs Vorian=One Hand Blades
Esyld: Good Success
Vorian: Success
Net Result: Esyld wins - Solid Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=One Hand Blades Vs Vorian=One Hand Blades
Esyld: Great Success
Net Result: DRAW

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Esyld=One Hand Blades Vs Vorian=One Hand Blades
Esyld: Amazing Success
Vorian: Good Success
Net Result: Esyld wins - Crushing Victory

"A bit safer, perhaps," replies Vorian.

His initial rage seems to have subsided, though the blood that runs down his chin is a clear reminder of the way he's been handled. He glances toward his shield, clearly considering a maneuver to scoop that up. And that glance is fatal, or near enough. Just as his attention deviates, even as he continues to backpedal, the eel is upon him.

He's back on his heels, and there is a flash of steel. The skree of metal on metal sends up sparks as Vorian manages to fend off several blows, still retreating, trying to find a way to maintain his balance. And then he goes high when Esyld goes low, and her blade whacks against his own thigh in perfectly-appropriate reprimand.

Despite himself, he grimaces, and when he goes back on the attack, his left leg is a bit slower, the muscles perhaps cramping under that blow. He's seeking to use his superior strength to overpower the woman, and for a moment it looks as though he'll succeed. With a feint and a twist, he manages to entangle the two blades at their crossguards, but he can't quite force Esyld's out wide. They stand there, blades locked, as Vorian tries to force his left leg to respond enough to give him the leverage he needs.

Once the red mist descends, there's no stopping Esyld. It's something of a trademark, if an unfortunate one in the eyes of more 'disciplined' fighters. She presses forward with the attack, not giving up the assult, not letting him find respite or even a chance to catch a breath. It's a thing of beauty, the ferocity and grace inherent in motions so practised as to have become near-instinctive. A dance, and all the steps are ones she has trod before.

That twist, the locking of their blades, freezes the mercnary in proximity, and for a splitsecond she meets Vorian's eyes with her own vivid hues. There's no smile now. No amusement. Not even mockery. With an impressive /heave/ of lithe muscle, she bears the weight of both their swords, hauling them up and around, freeing her own and knocking the Knight's wide in a singular motion. Had he the time to consider it, he might be impressed.

He doesn't.

The moment her longsword is free, Esyld kicks /hard/ at that left leg, hooking her calf around Vorian's and dragging it out from under him, dropping him solidly to his back. And an instant later, the raven-maned valkyrie has stepped astride him, the tip of that old sword lightly pressed to his sternum and a superior, triumphant smirk curling across her lips as she looks down upon him. "..'safer', did you say..?"

Whoomph!

Vorian hits hard, his sword jerked out of his hand by the impact, though he grabs it back up almost before its hilt even hits the ground. Whatever else he might be, the young t'Maren is not one to surrender his sword, even in the face of certain defeat. He's a game one, if certainly — humiliatingly — defeated in this encounter. "Well, yes. I said it, and at that moment, I meant every word." His breath is coming hard as he manages the witticism.

To his credit, Vorian doesn't even glance at that sword-tip at his chest. He's looking into Esyld's eyes, the same way he was during the better moments of the fight, where it looked as though he might offer something of a challenge. His pale eyes are focused as he stares up at her, absently tonguing blood off his lower lip.

"Even if you don't hire me," he says after a moment, still meeting her gaze levelly, "You should take my men anyway. They fight well as a unit, they're experienced, and they'll die to the last man for the right leader." The words are softer than a few moments before, and they clearly pain him. After his shockingly-poor performance, it seems the knight is willing to accept that he shall not be receiving a ringing endorsemen.

And he's willing to put aside his injured pride for the sake of his men.

At first, Esyld listens to all this with nothing more than an enquiring arch of a brow, almost idly bringing a booted foot to rest at the felled knight's forearm, rendering his sword useless with a pointed finality. If he intends to lure her into a mistake, he'll have to try harder. The motion brings with it a brief increase of pressure from the iron tip at his chest as she leans on it.. and that's probably no coincidence. Still, she eases off after a few beats, resting both hands arrogantly, crossed at the wrist, on the pommel of her blade and looking down at the man contemplatively.

"Vorian…" Softening visibly - though anything is an improvement, truth be told, on the expression of battle-rage - Esyld schools her features into a convincing impression of indulgent sympathy. "…there's a /reason/ I am in the personal retinue of the heiress. You don't have to be able to beat me. Just our enemies." Spoken like one used to winning. Slowly withdrawing her sword, then her foot, leaving her stance set either side of his hips, the mercenary offers a hand down toward Vorian, with the plain intent of helping him to his feet. "I wanted to get the measure of you for my own reasons. This counts for nothing beyond that." A gentle way of saying 'I won't tell them I knocked you on your backside.

There's no real change of expression at first, as that sword is pressed into him a bit. Well, perhaps a hint of defiance at the pressure, seen mostly in his eyes. But then the tip is eased, and he keeps staring up at her, a fresh squeeze of blood smearing across his lower lip. He nods slowly as the woman speaks, finally setting aside his sword in order to accept her hand upward. As he comes to his feet, he's a bit too close to the woman, suddenly looking down at her. And he smiles slowly, head canting to one side as he lingers there, his hand still loosely gripping Esyld's.

"Well," he says after a few beats, "What do you make of me?" That smile is a touch crooked from the blow, blood smeared into his so-carefully tended beard. Up close, beneath the scent of dirt and leather, one can smell the sharp scent of unadorned soap. He's using that trick again, that way of seeming to loom in without actually shifting at all. That way of convincing a person that, for this one instant, there is nothing left upon the Earth but her.

"You've skill, in no small measure." admits the mercenary, coolly holding Vorian's gaze as he looms over her; flicking to that blood-smeared lip pointedly, then back to his amused eyes. "But that much I already knew." She lingers where she is for a moment, not the sort of woman to be cowed by size /or/ suggestion. "It's good to know, though, that you're not /quite/ as good as you think you are.." She tilts her face upward, leaning in as pointedly as he was subtle in order to smirk directly up in return to the look he's giving her. "..and that I can put you back in your place, should you overstep your bounds."

And only then does she unhurriedly withdraw from the enforceed proximity, ducking around the knight to head for her swordbelt. Gods, but that sauntering arrogance must really needle him. Especially right in this moment. Which means it's probably utterly intentional, on her part.

Retrieving her scabbard, she smoothly sheathes her old longsword, then sets to fastening it, low-slung, around her hips as she slowly turns to face him again.

"A few words of advice. Lord Gabriel, as you know, is a l'Corren. Conduct yourself with a knightly bearing and he'll take note. Duke James? Is every bit as fearsome as you've likely heard. If anything, the rumors are kind. And the same goes for his bastard, the Lady Alina's half-brother, Corvin Fremont. Don't underestimate him."

"I do tend to overstep," says Vorian. It's a soft statement, almost a whisper, just before the woman steps away from him. But his amusement is in place as he watches her saunter over to the weaponry; the young knight is smart enough to know that this? This is a show. Put on for his benefit. And that tells him something, too. His grin widens a touch, teeth flashing, but it's gone when she looks back over at him. As she's offering her advice, he's belting on his sword, and he listens consideringly to everything she says.

Indeed, he really is listening. He doesn't bother to keep smiling as he considers her, probably to his credit. The expression on the young knight's face is, once again, the steel that he so often conceals beneath his affable charm. There is no arrogance here, no secret humor. When he speaks, it is with the utmost gravity. "I understand," he says quietly. Though what it is he understands is somewhat unclear. When he speaks next, he's in deadly earnest, resting his hand absently on his sword-hilt. "Esyld? Those ten men? There were a hundred of them, a few years ago." He rubs at the pommel of his sword, circling it with his thumb. "I will do whatever it takes to keep them with me."

There's a low, throaty laugh from the woman as she raises her hands, drawing her long tresses out where they've strayed beneath the collar of her riding jacket at the nape. Shaking free the lightly tousled ebon mane, she regards Vorian in light-hearted amusement, a complete contrast to her ferocity when she's engaged in swordplay. "If there is one thing the l'Saigners value above all else, Vorian.. it is the value of loyalty, utter, absolute and unwavering. I think you and your men can rest easy." She pauses, daring a brazen smirk that surely no 'lady' would even conceive of. "..well, in that regard, anyway." The way she brushes past him, lightly bumping his shoulder, is an oddly masculine mannerism. But from her, and when considered with the wry curve still playing on her lips, it's more of a playful thing than a real challenge. Besides, she's already bested him.

Strolling out to the morning sunlight in the ruined courtyard, Esyld stretches languidly, arms reaching skyward, then dropping idle back to her sides. "Well, that's set me up for the day." she remarks, across her shoulder. "I think I'll go and see if there's anything left of breakfast.." Surely, even if there is, it'll be long cold by the time she reaches the castle..?

Ah. No, maybe not. Loosing a sharp whistle through her teeth, the mercenary rouses her mount from where he's been patiently waiting in the shade of a half-crumbled wall. Cadfan is an impressive sight.. since when do mere guards warrant full-bred destriers? Especially one of a rare and striking black, with a silky mane that drapes down to his massive chest. She walks to him, ignoring the habitual, ill-tempered flattening of his ears, and rubs at his muzzle with obvious affection. Belatedly, there's a glance back to Vorian. "..and I suppose I shall be seeing you at the keep, at some point. Good luck to you… m'Lord."

At that reassurance — that amused reassurance, perfectly confident — Vorian smiles. And it's not the smile he's been giving her since they reunited in Bloodfield, the slow grin. No, this is the smile of their childhood — quick and happy, the corners of his eyes crinkling as it engulfs his whole face. "You've no idea what that means to be, Esyld. Think whose loyalty you just won." And that smirk is met with a raised eyebrow, a cant of the head. As she bumps her shoulder into him, he allows the back of his knuckles to brush against the side of her leg. And then she's past. He takes a moment to suck in a breath, licking his palm before he rubs it across his lip.

Lifting his shield, he turns to watch the woman go as he slings it across his back. And he breathes out again as she mounts Cadfan — a longer breath, a slow leaking-out of air. "She has grown up," he murmurs softly. And so has the knight. When Esyld bids him luck, he lifts his hand, stepping forward to answer. "And good luck to you, Mistress Esyld Draven."

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