(1867-08-20) Bite Your Tongue
Bite Your Tongue
Summary: Esyld and Vorian meet for a morning of sparring and conversation.
Date: 1867-08-20
Related: Amid the Ruins
Players:
Esyld  Vorian  

A Courtyard in Ostvar
In Set
1867-08-20

Given the choice, quite understandably, Esyld Draven would avoid ever using Faegates. It's not that she minds, really, the unnatural eyes she was left with after a mishap when she was younger… she just has a healthy respect for the method of travel now that others may lack. She emphatically does not enjoy it. Time was when she could simply accompany the supply caravans and horses, taking the longer journey overland. Now that she's part of the guard, though, that's no longer an option. Apparently, the Lady Alina is reason enough for the mercenary to face her fears, grit her teeth and accompany the l'Saigner party without complaint. Well, any complaint would hint at her unease, after all - she can't have that. Suffice to say, the raven-maned bastard has been uncharacteristically quiet, even prior to the gate-sickness that has kept everyone preoccupied for a couple of days as they settle into the temporary lodgings. A manse of suitabl size has been acquired for the Lady and her husband, as well as their retinue; nothing over the top but certainly good enough for even the heiress' discerning tastes. As one would expect - the province is the birthplace of her mother, the Duchess.

Finally up to being out in the fresh air, Esyld is going through some basic drills in a sparse courtyard, seeming content in her own company. Other servants and guards and knights pass by intermittently, busy with their preparations for the upcoming tourney, but there seems a general consensus to leave her be as she trains. The woman is clad in her standard leathers, working through practised motions with a simple blade and looking perfectly at home. There are plenty of reasons for her to comfortable here… as a sellsword she often visited, making a little coin guarding caravans to the hub of trade in Couviere. And she holds a certain esteem for the Lightning Brigade, House l'Faust's elite cavalry. Others might be feeling out of place, so far from Highwater. Not her.

Vorian t'Maren hates Faegates for his own reasons — the man does not enjoy, it seems, feeling helpless. And the sickness which follows after the travel is a physical incarnation of everything he hates. So he has not been seen much for the past few days; his men have taken turns bringing the knight food and water, but his usually-amiable nature has turned sour with the nausea and they do not linger long. Finally, however, the weakness seems to have passed.

He emerged early this morning, dressed in his training leathers and lugging a tourney sword, but his first stop was the kitchens. A loaf of bread, a bowl of thick black stew, and a mug of small beer seem to have restored his strength and his smile. And now he comes into this courtyard, smiling as he sees Esyld, leaning on his sword as he watches her go through the drills.

If the t'Maren knight feels out-of-place here, it does not show. And perhaps this is no surprise — it has been some time, after all, since the man had a true home. One bed, perhaps, has become much the same as another. And either one rarer than a hard rock for a pillow.

"You know, under normal circumstances.." Esyld addresses the voyeur as she executes a slow, deliberate arc of her blade, both hands maintaining a powerful grip upon the long hilt, "..I support my brother and his efforts in the lists." Shifting her weight, the brunette carves a slice back through the air in the other direction, calmly engaging the Knight in conversation without losing focus. A boon of many years practice. "But perhaps my allegiance will have to shift, this time."

Following through, she pivots on a booted heel, then comes to a halt facing Vorian more directly, lips twitching in a half-smile of greeting. "Morning." Those vivid eyes flit over the man's attire and weapon, his intent perfectly apparent in company with his presence and bearing. "Ready to dust off the cobwebs, m'Lord?" A quirk of brow suggests an invitation.. and that's enough to have a few servants and guardsmen slowing their pace to linger; hopes of a spar worth watching quite palpable. "You'll want a good showing, after all." continues the mercenary, slowly backing up a few paces across the plain, hardpacked dirt of the central circle to offer him space to enter. The cobblestones that surround it would be less forgiving for landing on his arse. Kind of her to think of these things, isn't it? "Lord Gabriel was one of the greatest knights the circuit had ever seen.. and you certainly don't want to be outdone by my noble brother.. especially now he's wed to the daughter of a l'Faust vassal, hm?"

Settling herself into a ready stance, she gestures for the t'Maren to approach, apparently in a particularly benign sort of mood this morning.

"Under normal circumstances," replies Vorian as he moves into the ring of hard dirt, "I would support your brother as well. It's been years since I rode in a list." As Esyld continues to move through her forms, Vorian begins to do the same, on his half of the ring. And it's not long before his movements become a mirror of hers — counters to her imagined strikes, strikes of his own. Their shadows cross blades in the dirt as he moves, as slowly as tar. "But if you mean to show me.. favor, then I best do the same for myself."

His slow smile inches up to his face as he reaches full extension in a lunge, his sword cutting across the center of the circle, and holds it for a long moment before deliberately drawing his elbow back in. There is not even a hint of a quiver in the sword's tip, an impressive feat of strength for such a lean man. "I don't intend to embarrass Lord Gabriel. And much as I admire your brother, I don't intend to give myself up to him on a platter." There is a pause. "..So I need your help."

And now he settles himself in the high-guard position, the pommel of his longsword held before his chest, the blade angled upward and back toward his own head. "Please," he says, his smile turning into a full, wicked, grin. "Knock away my cobwebs."

"Well, I may not be the sort to tie a lace ribbon around the tip of your lance, Sir Knight.. but I can certainly knock you about a bit. That's the best sort of favor you'll get from me." Esyld keeps pace with steps and banter both, snorting her amusement at the knight but seemingly at least mildly flattered by the admission he offers. Waving off his concern over Gabriel before rolling her shoulders and cricking her neck gently from one side to the other, the mercenary adds, "You won't. Just don't be a prat."

As they square off properly and she reaffirms her stance, the woman does relent to a quiet smile, the ghost of a curve playing across her lips. "All three of us had the same training.. and all three of us thereafter set out upon very different paths. We each have our strengths and our weaknesses. Alas, only the two of you can actually seek to prove your mettle in the tourney. And don't you both have someone to impress, that's for certain.." Oh, she's idly teasing now. Typical. And perhaps a faint distraction as she sweeps an initial slice through the air toward Vorian.


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

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

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

"It's not lace that I want on the tip of my lance," replies Vorian as the pair square off. "But you're right — I do have someone I would like to impress. And since she cannot fight in the tourney proper.." And then Vorian is moving. The first strike comes as a simple overhand blow, which Esyld easily deflects to the side. But Vorian seems to have anticipated that — he's already moving along with his sword's edge, sidestepping, the weapon making a deceptively lazy arc as he sweeps it downward into the back of Esyld's hamstring. It connects with a smack.

Esyld is as skilled as Vorian himself, however, and even as she stumbles forward, she pivots and lashes out, the tip of her sword scraping across his chest before he can bring his own weapon back into the guard position. He smiles again as he steps backward. And then there is another exchange.

To those watching, it must seem like a blur of movement, but to the two combatants it is as deliberate as a ball-room dance. Vorian cuts in quickly, stepping close in an attempt to use his superior weight to force Esyld off-balance, but she is far too skilled for that. And as she dances back, she ripostes — forcing Vorian to whip his head back or take her blade fully on his chin. That blade spins past him with a whipping sound, and again he attacks, this time managing to entangle their crossguards.

And, finally, he can use his strength to his advantage. Setting himself before Esyld can loop an ankle around his and send him sprawling, Vorian heaves forward against her. As the woman stumbles backward, for once caught off-guard, the knight lashes out with his sword, smacking it home into her left side with a meaty thwack.


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

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

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

Under other circumstances, no doubt there'd have been a sharp verbal riposte, too, for the insinuation in Vorian's jibe. But the woman has other things on her mind, right from the off. She snarls in response to the bruising strike to the back of her leg, those high boots not quite enough to entirely protect her from a blow to a vulnerable spot. The ire seems directed inward, however.. she recognises a good shot when she sees one. That answering slash at his chest is a thing of instinct rather than precision, too, seeing as she's off-balance. But at least it's a response and a swift one. The next, infuriatingly, only skiffs by his jaw, at the most perhaps shortening a few hairs within the stubble. Not enough for her liking.

As their crossguards become tangled, and Vorian looms over her, Esyld meets his gaze in that fleeting proximity; not a trace of worry or uncertainty apparent. Only the heat of simmering battle-haze, as she settles to a rhythm. A flawed one it may be for now.. but she'll soon rejoin the dance. Flung back a step or two, then rewarded with a strike to her side that actually prompts a gasp from the mercenary - as well as the small crowd - she visibly re-evaluates her opponent and adjusts her tactics accordingly. There's nothing playful or 'testing' about this spar, then. They have the measure of one another and now it's time to use it.

He's fighting like the mercenary. So she'll fight like the knight. That is, after all, what he'll be up against in the bouts.

Taking a flexible, almost casual grip, the dark-haired woman gets her balance back and ignores the aching ribs in her side, launching a sudden flurry of precise, elegant attacks upon the taller man; each one designed to put him on the back foot.. and every one landing as she intends. That's more like it. And he best retaliate before she decides he's thrown enough and finishes him off.


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

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

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

The battle between the pair is almost a conversation in itself — they seem to move like the tide, one's fortunes ebbing while the other's flows forth. Vorian falls back again and again, a moment too late in his parries, a half-step behind when he moves to riposte. And she does have him on the back foot. From the sounds of the crowd, many think that despite his early successes, the fight is almost over.

But he is nothing if not a warrior. She wouldn't be crossing blades with him, otherwise. And just as it seems he's finished — indeed, as the 'killing' blow comes in, Vorian sidesteps and flows back across Esyld's line of attack. It's a retreat, sure enough, but it's also a reversal in direction. And it allows him to lash out in attempts to force Esyld to keep her distance, landing a pair of quick blows that would be, in a true fight, nothing more than superficial wounds.

Perhaps growing overconfident, he launches a more deliberate counterattack — and walks into a blow to his own ribs. And thus, the balance is restored, the pair back to circling. Vorian's left elbow is cradled in against his side, perhaps signifying a truly painful blow — or perhaps trying to appear that way. He does not seem, as Esyld noticed, to fight very much like a courtly knight.


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

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

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

Humble in victory, gracious in defeat. When Vorian manages to keep her at bay, even after being forced back in the impressively executed flurry, Esyld obligingly withdraws and, following a last, pointed and jarring blow to his side - why does that somehow convey a reprimand? - she concedes to circling once more. Truth be told, she's barely aware of their audience now. Her striking blue eyes remain level upon her opponent, watchful for any move that might offer a clue to his next move.

Deciding not to wait and give him the opportunity, the brunette steps in with a sudden lunge that just scrapes by his defenses. Mostly to prove that she can. But the point is rebuffed when Vorian brings his next strike inward of her, flinging her sword arm wide with an arc to her forearm that has to hurt. Then, adding insult to minor injury, he once again throws her back with a heave of muscle. He's undeniably the stronger of the two, shouldering her weight with ease and a solid crack of a blow from his elbow to boot.

She's not exactly taken to a knee.. but only because the mercenary elects to land hard on her side and roll backward, unsteadily getting her feet again in one swift motion; forsaking balance for speed in this instance. Ouch.


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

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

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

There really isn't a choice in this moment — Vorian cannot afford to let the woman regain her footing, not such a skilled opponent as this. Any regard he has for her — and it's certainly there — is set aside as he moves forward, careful as a cat — and as quick, following that roll. As she comes to her feet, he's already striking, another hard blow that connects with her left shoulder.

But for all his evident respect, Vorian has underestimated the woman's toughness. By choosing to strike to her left, he's left himself exposed. And Esyld strikes out in a flurry of fast blows that sends the bigger man wheeling backward. Her first cuts across his side, but it's a weaker blow, lacking the leverage to really put her weight into it. It does, however, do as it was intended — drive him back.

Vorian tries to bring his sword back around in time, but it's too late. Esyld's next strike — a lunge, perfectly precise — strikes him square on the chest and pushes him backward. And, breathing hard, grimacing, he sets himself for what must certainly be the final exchange. Both combatants have taken and given some shrewd blows, and it has long since begun to show.


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

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

To her credit, though she visibly winces with a grimace at that bone-shuddering strike to her shoulder, Esyld keeps her mind on the matter at hand and her defenses are up again, resolute. The further he backs off, the harder she presses. For every backward step he takes, she takes two forward. That lunge is a thing of potent, powerful beauty that behoves one trained by House t'Maren. Unfortunately, the same can be said of Vorian's riposte.

Crossing his blade downward hard across her own, the larger man moves with surprising speed; whirling to the side, simultaneously out of her reach and around her defense, slashing downward at her leather-clad thigh as she fails to intercept.

With no choice but to accept the blow, Esyld does at least follow up with a swift slice at the knight's upper arm, the edge of the blade biting into his training armor. But she's favoring that leg as she sidles away.. it's the one she limps on often anyway. Perhaps that poorly healed battlescar is reminding her of her limits. Yes, she has them. Presumably sensing an opportunity, through even this slim advantage over her, Vorian follows suit with an unhampered stride, parrying a defensive slash from the mercenary, knocking it aside and once again adopting that steady forward reach with his blade. Only this time, the sword-tip is levelled at Esyld's throat. A glance down to this, then up to the man's breathless features, and the Captain concedes; lowering her own sword to a listless dangle by her side. "..I yield. Well fought, m'Lord."

For a long few moments, Vorian holds that sword to Esyld's throat, breathing heavily as he studies her features. And then he lowers the blade, crouching and settling it down into the dirt. Straightening, he runs both hands over his face, wiping away sweat and brushing hair back off his forehead before he grins at the woman. "You are," he tells her, "Your father's daughter. That was the best bloody match I've had in months."

Something in her words seem to bother him, and he glances around at the sparse crowd which has remained to watch the end of the bout. Speaking more lowly, inaudible to the crowd, he says — leaning forward just slightly, his gaze fixed on Esyld's — "I should be so lucky." And he straightens, watching her with the wholehearted attention that is such a hallmark of his charm. And though Esyld is the one who yielded, it is Vorian who now stands disarmed.

"I don't suppose," he says in that same low voice, "that you'd join me for a bit of a walk? I've been stuck in my room for days, and I got to tell you, the lads are not the sort of company I've been missing." Here, in this quiet moment, he sounds more like a common mercenary than a t'Maren knight. "Thought we could see the town."

The very fact that she can practically lounge where she stands, utterly unperturbed by the continued presence of the longsword at her throat, speaks either of Esyld's arrogant confidence in herself.. or her unwavering trust in her fellow t'Maren. Perhaps both. Regardless, she knows Vorian needs the moment to come back to himself, following the hard-won bout, and so she waits patiently, even offering a slow smile in the wake of the compliment, as she takes it. "Thank you."

Seeming to miss - or simply lack concern over - what has him looking momentarily awkward, the mercenary flits a nonchalant glance over the already-dispersing audience, following his own, then looks back up when Vorian leans inward. Oh, she holds his gaze. It's not in her nature to become some stammering, stuttering, giddy idiot simply because of a man's presence. There's even a snort of derisive amusement, for his troubles, though she takes the remark no further. She's not naive.. and she's certainly no fool, either.

Nodding gently in response to his suggestion, the woman sheathes the sword at her hip in an unthinking manner. "I'd hoped to visit the markets, before sundown.." she admits, pleasantly conversational and still blithely unaware of any lingering glances their way. "Have you spent much time in Ostvor? They have the most remarkable traders and oddities. There's a whorehouse I know of where they do this brilliant thing with a few coins and some juggling balls.."

"That's a sight I'd like to see," replies Vorian. "Any whorehouse that can impress you is going to be quite the place, I'm sure. I haven't ever had the chance to visit Ostvor… seems to me, you can show me the sights." He reaches down again, scooping up his sword by the flat of his blade and tucking it under his arm. But even as he stoops, he keeps his eyes on Esyld. Perhaps he thinks she may be tempted to spring.

"Oddities too, eh?" A dark brow is quirked upward as Vorian watches the young woman. He glances toward the archways, then back to Esyld, this time in apparent invitation. "I like oddities." And now, with the crowd dispersed, he lets his gaze briefly travel up and down the woman's form.

"You need some time? Or shall I fetch my proper sword and we'll set out? I know Fallon and a few of the others are already.. seeking out some oddities." His grin turns a bit wry. "They just got paid. They'll be poor again come the end of the tournament, I suspect."

Esyld is not the sort to boot a man when he's.. well, alright, she is. But not a friend. Vorian makes his stoop and straightens unharmed, the mercenary folding her arms comfortably low across her midsection as she watches him in open amusement. That wandering gaze probably doesn't go unnoticed either. But she ignores it. "What, were you expecting me to go and change into a ballgown or something? We can go now. I've nothing pressing. As for the parting of your men from their coin… I imagine that depends who they choose to place a wager on in the coming events, doesn't it?" The Black Fox company had a tidy profit after her winning the Sunsreach Bareknuckle, as she recalls.

"Come on." Turning from the taller knight, Esyld shakes back her dark tresses and heads for the main archway, as indicated by his pointed glance. There's still the trace of a limp, but that's quite often the case for her. She certainly doesn't seem hampered by it, judging by the rangy stride. "I'll not lead you into anything that might sully your pristine reputation, m'Lord." The assurance drifts back on the breeze that stirs thrrough the courtyard.. and it's impossible to say whether it's genuine or not.


Some time later, Vorian and Esyld stroll through the vast markets of Ostvor. The tall knight, still dressed in his simple leathers, at least has his sword-belt on. But there's nothing to truly distinguish him from the hundreds of other armed men and merchants that gather here, at the gateway to the east. Nothing except the way that he moves. It's not a swagger — a swagger is an outward manifestation of arrogance. No, Vorian doesn't swagger — but there's something in the way he walks that displays a coiled, deadly, confidence.

His face, however, is more that of a hayseed than a swordsman. He is openly gaping at several of the market stalls, looking aside to Esyld as if seeking clarification. One booth displays a collection of prisms and magnifying glasses and one — only one — magnificent Alhazred Looking Glass. Vorian slows to look at the rainbow reflections of light coming off the prisms, and his head keeps turning back toward the spot as he passes it.

Reluctantly looking away, he says to the woman beside him, "So. This, uh. Whorehouse, then?" He doesn't seem embarrassed so much as utterly nonplussed by the various wonders around him.

"I was only kidding about that. Sorry to disappoint you." replies Esyld, airily and utterly unperturbed as she pauses to admire some tooled leather saddlebags. Typical. Surrounded by silks and gems and finery, and she goes for something for her damned horse. "Well, that is, there are brothels. Probably with some exotic fare, if that's what you've a taste for." Reluctantly moving on as the trader eyes her, the woman turns her gaze up and aside to Vorian. "..but the juggling trick I've only seen once. And I doubt any description I could conjure would give it due credit."

She, too, carries herself with a quiet confidence; the combination of the pair of them clearing a relatively easy path through the crowd. She ends up wandering toward a beautifully carved fountain, though, perhaps lured by the notion of a moment's air in this stifling mass. "Besides. You wouldn't want to end up either run ragged or with an empty coin purse so soon before the free for all, would you..?" While she offers a smile, there's an edge to her words that might just imply it's not mere sportsmanship that prompts her concerns. Taking a seat on the fountain's edge, the young woman allows her attention to wander to the passing faces; such a broad spectrum in the city for the upcoming tourney. The energy and anticipation seems to suit her. Though it's likely not much of a surprise that she'd be a keen follower of such events, given her upbringing.

Vorian settles down just beside the young woman, absently adjusting his sword as he does so. He, too, watches the crowds — astonishment writ on his face as a particularly outlandish merchant passes just before them. Esyld's comments on the brothel have him laughing, however, and he looks aside at her. "You thought I wanted to sample the trade?" The knight's voice is teasing, and he leans briefly to nudge at the young woman with his elbow. "I just wanted to see what could possibly get you into a brothel for more than dragging your men out. Though I suppose some do have boys."

He grows a bit more serious, watching the market again, his eyes narrowed faintly. "There's so much here I don't understand," he tells Esyld quietly. "I even saw coins I didn't recognize. But you.. you look like you belong here." The notion doesn't seem to displease him, and he smiles at the sight of a young man walking on his hands to the tune of a flautist. "You've seen more of the world than I. At least, more of the civilized bits, and just as much of the ugly ones. Makes me feel like a right berk."

"Oh, pull the other one. It's got bells on." Esyld wrinkles her nose in response to that nudge, though good-naturedly, glancing sidelong toward the man beside her. "A man does not go to a brothel out of innocent curiosity." A pause. "Nor does a woman, actually." This rouses a throaty chuckle from her, though she shakes it off as Vorian's expression sobers. Arching a slender brow at the softened tone, her features gradually fade to something akin to gentle sympathy. "What's to understand, Vorian? People are the same wherever you go. The same dreams, desires, mistakes, weaknesses. They may dress differently or have.. unusual customs.." Ostvor is, in fairness, considered rather old-fashioned in comparison to other provinces. "But they're all the same, for good or ill, at heart. You worry too much." For the barest of instants, she starts to move, then hesitates.. then reaches to sweep aside a stray lock of hair from the knight's forehead.

"I've seen a lot of it, I suppose. Do I seem jaded? I don't mean to." Clasping her hands firmly back in her lap, lest they make any further ill-advised ventures of their own accord, the mercenary follows her companion's attention toward the performers. "The 'civilised parts' mean less to me, I think.. I once had to wear a formal gown, to attend a dinner with my father and the l'Saigners at Highwater. Give me a bareknuckle any day over trying to choose which fork to use or remember to sit up straight." She smirks at the memory.

Vorian turns toward the young woman as she speaks, his whole attention settling on her. He grins briefly at that low chuckle, but sombers as he listens to her. And when that hand comes out, he stays perfectly still, his features lacking their usual humor. Her touch causes his head to turn subtly, though he stops himself from actually pressing his forehead against her palm. "I'm still settling here," he says after a moment. "In the household, I mean. But I can already see things are different than in a proper fighting army. Not wrong, just different."

His eyes are on the woman's for a few moments, seeking something — understanding, perhaps — and then the young man smiles his lazy grin, tipping his head on one side as he studies her. "I can imagine you in a formal gown," he says after a few moments of scrutiny. "Wouldn't mind seeing it sometime. But the truth is, Esyld Draven belongs in leather and steel."

His grin grows a bit wicked. "Well. I say that. But I can think of other ways a man'd rather see you than armored. Especially if you keep raising bruises like this one when you do wear it." He rubs his chest ruefully. "..Come to think of it, I've no graceful way out of this and if I keep going on, it's going to get worse, so I'll just…stop talking." But he seems amused, rather than embarrassed.

"I could knock you on your arse just as easily in a full skirted dress as I can in riding leathers, Vorian." Dropping the formality now that they're not beneath the scrutiny of watchful eyes and listening walls, Esyld makes the remark pleasantly. "But you're right." She follows the motion as he rubs at his sternum, that smirk still tugging at her lips. "You might want to bite your tongue. Lest you lose it." Her threat is as sincere as his embarassment.

"It's a very different sort of house." She continues, without missing a beat; averting her gaze once more and tilting her head a little askance as a small entourage of guards make their way by, no doubt protecting some darling little waif or another. "But it's the one I know best. I've spent more years with the l'Saigners than I have with my own kin. The formidable reputation is most certainly well-placed. But they're loyal and protective of their own. There's immeasurable value in such things." Raking her own dark tresses back with the fingertips of one hand, the mercenary frowns ever so slightly, mulling something over in her mind. It must be something important indeed, given th way she captures her lower lip between her teeth for a moment longer. Apparently it's not something she intends to voice as yet, though. "You seem to be settling in rather well. I'm glad. My endorsement was not ill-placed." Not that the words of a common thug count for much to a noble family, of course. "The best advice I can give you is… well, things are rarely what they seem at a glance. Make your choices carefully, when it comes to what you believe is 'right' or 'wrong'."

Well, how exactly does one explain to a noble knight of proper upbringing and morals, what he's getting into amidst the politics, poisons, intrigues and.. Wraiths? Best to let him learn in his own good time.

"Might be you bite it off. I can think of worse ways to die." Vorian grins his lazy grin, perhaps recognizing that he can slip in one final jest before turning to more serious matters. And he does turn to them, once again showing that the young man has intelligence enough to know when something serious is being said to him.

The flirtation leaves his bearded face as he listens to Esyld speak, replaced with a detached expression — the sort of look a commander has when studying a battlefield, or faced with a chart. He's weighing each word, considering it, and the gears can be seen almost visibly turning. And that moment, too — the words she almost says, and does not — is measured. There's a brief hint of a question on his face, but he lets it drop away as he listens to the rest of what she has to say.

"Loyalty and duty. I understand those things," he says quietly. Earnestness plays no part in his tone — he's simply speaking truth. "And I hear what you say, Esyld. About reserving judgement. It's good advice and I thank you for it." He, too, seems on the verge of saying something further, but instead reaches to briefly touch the woman's forearm. "And I won't forget it's you who said it to me."

His smile slips back, slowly, masking the iron in his gaze. "But right and wrong stopped mattering to me some time ago, in the larger sense. It seems to me that what a man who swears an oath must worry about is this: Does the man I swore to return that loyalty? And you tell me the answer is yes. Your word is all I need."

"I know you understand those things, of course… I didn't mean to imply otherwise, if I have." Esyld snaps her attention back to her companion, just as that touch brushes across her arm. The timing could be misconstrued. Regardless, she falls quiet and listens intently to the remainder of his words. There's the ghost of a smirk - which can't be helped - when he speaks of right and wrong. "The morality of one in your position is rather far removed from that of one in mine, m'Lord.." Here, she used the title as a gentle, but pointed, reminder. "Until recently, I could go where I wished and do as I pleased, within reason. And I'm not exactly a fucking Sister of the Faith, am I. But your question is a fair one.."

Drawing a breath, she considers her answer, for once, before voicing it; keeping her blue eyes on Vorian's. "The Duke is good to those who serve him faithfully and unwaveringly. I've never had any reason to question my own loyalty." Well, now or never… "And he, in turn, apparently trusts me with the heart of his son. That's not a small mercy, and I've no intention of squandering such an.. unexpected advocation." Lowering her gaze to her clasped hands, the woman studies her uppermost thumbnail with sudden great interest. "..now can you think of worse ways to die?" There's wry amusement in her tone, absolutely. But the upward glance she steals to Vorian's expression is undeniably looking to gauge his reaction to the revelation. Well, she did mention being involved with someone, before. It's just a timely reminder.. and clarification. Gods forbid he make some off-the-cuff remark in the wrong hearing.

There is a long silence from the young knight. He studies Esyld, head canted slightly. And the expression on his face is neither the naked iron of a commander considering his place, nor the lazy smile of a handsome young blade. He watches her as a man watches a woman, no pretense in his look. And there's no doubt that he takes her meaning fully; there's gravity to his gaze. "I heard Ivan at work before we left, on the prisoners we took. I was walking Lady Alina to the dungeons."

He doesn't look away, not even when the woman turns her head to study her hands. The t'Maren noble considers her, absently tonguing the inside of his cheek. "I can think of many terrible ways to die, Esyld. But if I live in fear of them all, I wouldn't be much use to anyone, would I?" The question is rather gentle. He's still watching her. "You brought me to this House. You helped me protect my men. Find a way to keep them together. You did that." A brief pause. "I'm at your service."

Finally, he glances away, looking out over the market. "I'm sorry. I hadn't realized the sort of position I've been putting you in. Is it that you want me to stay away, then? I will, if you ask. Or we can carry on as we are. Friends."

"You haven't put me in any position, Vorian. This is just how we are and I don't want or expect that dynamic to change. But yes.." Looking back toward the man now, Esyld offers him a warm smile. "I want you and your men to stay. Both with the house and with each other. Anyone else, I'd let stumble blindly along and put their foot in their mouth. But you, I like." To punctuate the point, she leans over a little, nudging him in the ribs with her elbow. "So I'm perhaps more forward with this information than I would be otherwise."

Straightening again, the woman seems to relax, continuing on quietly. "It's little more than a rumour, back home. An enduring one, yes. But gossip. There aren't many who know the truth.. because frankly, it's no one's business. And it's not as though we're bloody betrothed or anything. We're not important enough for such nonsense. And I don't know that either of us have considered it beyond how it stands now." She shrugs her shoulders lightly. "Why bother?"

Relenting to a slightly wolfish grin, still watching Vorian, she adds, "..do you think you're the first man to flirt with me, m'Lord? Your banter isn't even that good."

Vorian raises both brows, clasping a hand to his chest. "My banter is bloody top-notch, you little weasel!" He's grinning in answer, head tilted to one side as he studies the young woman. "As for what you consider and what you don't, well.." A brief pause. "I'll just carry on as I am, and let you do as you'll do. And if I do end up under a knife, my lads'll follow you. Trust me there." His tone is light-hearted, and the smile is in place, even if the words are anything but.

"I don't really know what any of this means for me," he continues companionably, watching Esyld with his habitual smile. "I do appreciate you wanting to keep me from making an arse out of myself — and getting my throat slit, maybe. I like him. His men did good work that day in the woods and he led them well. I'd hate to die at the hands of someone I like." His grin widens a bit further, and he looks Esyld up and down. "But I need someone to practice my banter on. I don't intend to let up just on account of inconvenience."

His smile turns a bit wry. "Besides. I've my reputation to consider. The lads really like you."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License