Title: Stop, Ruffian!
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 03:19 AM (GMT)
"I don't know about this," she muttered, inhaling deeply and evenly. This was the first overt display of disobedience she'd ever taken under Isyllt's matriarchal supervision, and if Isyllt caught her, it would definitely be her last. Her heart was going a mile a minute just thinking about Isyllt's reaction to this.
They were just outside the city, at the edge of a large, tall-grassed field. Beyond, she could see the beginnings of farming life. The sky was bright blue and the clouds light and fluffy; nice weather, for Maristheum.
Kane was overly jovial, no doubt proud of himself for finally convincing Aderyn to do something naughty. "Don't be silly. Isyllt's at her little conference or whatever in Kyha for two days. We'll be back before sunset. And the servants aren't gonna tell her nothin', I promise." He was atop a fine gelding, and holding onto the reigns of a dancing filly, barely two years old.
Addy herself was on top of a steady old mare, going on twelve years old. Dancer had been her horse since she was fourteen, but the horse was growing old, and was only a few years from permanent retirement.
The filly, aptly named Ruffian, was to be Dancer's replacement. In contrast to the mare, Ruffian was looking around the field with rapt attention.
"I know, but... I mean, she's barely been broken. What if she gets away from me?"
Kane smiled. "She's used to the weight of a saddle on her back plus a person, and she knows the basic commands. Sure, she's a little skittish, but who better to train her than you?" He smiled fondly at the filly. "It'll... look, there ain't nothing like the bond between yourself and a horse you finished breaking. It's special, Addy, and I want that for you. Dancer was already going on five when you got her." When Aderyn's look of worry failed to decrease, he sighed, and said, "Look, me an' Baby, here, we'll be right beside you the whole way. Okay? You always wanted to go adventurin', right? Well part of that is taking risks."
Addy let out a shaky breath, and nodded. "Okay," she whispered, dismounting Dancer and tying her to a choking, gnarled old tree. Dancer immediately settled to picking at mouthfuls of grass at her feet.
Kane grinned. "Need help getting up?"
She gave him a sharp look, not liking that he was teasing her when her wits were already so addled. She stuck her tongue out at him and mounted Ruffian. The filly danced a bit, head tossing at the weight, but at Kane's clucking, she quieted. Kane handed her the reigns, and Aderyn experimentally shook them out, digging her heels into the filly's stomach.
Ruffian jolted forward, but after trotting a few steps, slowed to a walk. "Atta'girl," she murmured, petting Ruffian's neck.
Just then, a bird exploded out of the grass, and Ruffian danced to the side, and then bolted, and it was all Addy could do to keep her seat. She lost her grip on the reigns and threw herself forward, trying to recapture them. "Kane!" She grabbed fistfuls of the filly's mane, and risked a glance behind.
Baby was running hard, but Ruffian was outpacing the aging gelding easily. "Oh Pryyo. Oh Tristella," Aderyn breathed, as Baby stumbled, and Kane went flying off. Another flock of birds erupted out of the grass, and Ruffian twisted into a new direction, straight for a stretch of trees and brush. Aderyn's eyes widened -- she was going to get killed or at least maimed in there. "Woah, Ruffian!" she shrieked, screwing her eyes shut and trying to flatten herself against the filly's back.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 03:37 AM (GMT)
Ephram had been attempting to take a sort of shortcut to save time and be nice to his own, oddly even-tempered stallion when he realized that his shortcut was likely to become anything but a time-saver. He heard the hooves pounding against the ground before he heard what he thought sounded like some sort of distressed yell. That got his attention like a fiery-hot poker to his nagging sense of duty to everything and everyone. Bringing his steed to a halt, he turned toward the source of the sound and looked through the few trees before him, his eyes narrowing in an attempt to better his focus. The flapping of birds' wings, a shriek. . .
Ephram was off his horse in seconds and darting forward. It wasn't until after he had snatched at the reins and managed to pull them back that he realized what he was doing. In a flash he somehow closed the fairly short distance between himself and the rapidly moving horse and rider, and through pure luck he had gotten a hold of those reins. He leaned back on his heels, hoping not to actually hurt the animal, but he pulled, and he kept himself to the side of the horse, not having any intention of getting himself run over and ensuring that the girl on its back would be launched right off.
He just had no way of knowing whether he was about to help matters or make them worse. The horse might come to a halt and prevent the lady from getting scratched up or worse, but it might also come to a sudden halt and rear up or buck or stop so quickly that the lady would go right into the brush. Then there was still a chance that it would keep going and Ephram would have to let it go . . .
So much for a quick ride back to the city.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 03:41 AM (GMT)
There was a flash of larger movement to the side, and Ruffian tried to evade the man's grasping hands, but she was caught. Terrified, she reared, and sent Aderyn tumbling right off with a shriek.
She hit the ground of the field with a rough oomph. For a second, she laid there, stunned and breathless.
Then, with a gasp, her breath came back to her, and she rolled onto her stomach and crawled away from the commotion of Ruffian dancing back and forth, kicking and generally causing a big stupid ruckus because she saw some birds. When she figured herself out of the Zone of Terror, Aderyn turned back onto her butt and sat there, dazed. She opened her mouth to thank Kane, and realized that it wasn't Kane at all.
Eyes wide, she looked at her savior bemusedly.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 03:54 AM (GMT)
The horse or the girl. The horse or the girl. Should he stop the horse or let it go and worry about the girl? The dilemma only shot through his mind for a fraction of a second, but he would have sworn that it lasted longer because it hurt. It happened quickly, but it didn't happen all that easily, and he would have sworn guilt hit him as he stepped into the frazzled horse and pressed a hand against it.
"Woah," he said lowly. "Woah."
The horse's sidestepping seemed to die down a bit. Thinking it was safe to let the thing be and hope it wouldn't decide to bolt at the first opportunity, Ephram backed away and turned. Quickly, he moved toward the lady seated on the ground.
"Are you alright?" he asked with no small amount of concern, his eyes alert and darting over her in an entirely harmless manner. She didn't appear to be horribly injured, but Ephram wasn't about to make any assumptions about her being entirely fine. "Are you hurt?"
Valorian, Ephram's own horse, slowly walked out of the trees and busied himself with the grass.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 03:58 AM (GMT)
Her heart was beating a thousand times a second. She pushed her hand against her chest to quell it, and realized that it was shaking. Her attire, previously a fine riding habit, was as dirty as could be expected -- and her hair was probably a state unto itself. She watched the man quell her horse with almost insulting ease, and tried to steady her breathing.
Then he came over to her. Beyond him, she saw another horse walk up, nosing the grass, and Ruffian seemed to finish calming at the equine company, and began tugging at the grass near him.
"I... yes," she stammered, although her heart was still beating like crazy. "I truly... I apologize, for the disruption. She is still being broken." She realized that she was beginning to ramble, and began to push herself to her feet. She was sore all over from that fall. Hopefully there would be no visible bruises outside of the confines of her normal dresses.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 04:10 AM (GMT)
He was quick to tell her, "It's alright," not wanting her to think that she really had to apologize. Then he took another step toward her and offered his hand, saying, "Please, let me help."
Had she given him the time to, he would have advised that she stay seated on the ground for a moment and give herself a minute or two to recover, but with her already trying to get to her feet, he supposed the best thing he could do was offer his support and stay close in case she lost her balance. He didn't want her falling again because he was too dumb to prevent that.
She was shaken up, but he was a little nervous, too. Ephram may have had a talent for being in the right places at the worst times to semi-intentionally save the day, but that didn't mean that he found it easy, and he definitely didn't like to see a lady like this one trembling and probably starting to bruise far too much. It made him tense. It made him a little scatterbrained. He may have seemed very calm and ready to help, but he was far from entirely composed beyond the mostly cool facade.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 04:12 AM (GMT)
She was still breathing a little erratically when he offered her a hand. She took it gratefully, without a second thought -- such things were the due of women, in her world. Offering him a shaky smile back, she said, "Thank you," and pulled herself up with the leverage of his hand.
Once her weight was squarely on her feet, she gasped in pain and stumbled.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 04:19 AM (GMT)
There was, at the very least, one great thing about being as tall as Ephram was. His height and the sort of strength inherent in a healthy body with a frame that size made it very easy to support a lady when it was necessary. Ephram instinctively reached out with his unoccupied arm and bent his knees when he saw her stumble, allowing him to press his hand against her back and position himself in a way that would allow her to hold onto him if she wanted to steady herself and give him the opportunity to pull her to him if she was ready to fall right back down to the ground.
The small smile that had reached his lips at her thanks had immediately disappeared, but he sounded fairly pleasant when he said, "Careful, now. What is it?"
His eyes searched hers for a sign of lingering pain. Should he set her down again? Maybe he needed to be a little more supportive and not be so worried about being too touchy . . .
"Did you hurt your ankle?" That seemed likely . . .
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 04:22 AM (GMT)
He caught her with a move that seemed almost practiced, it was so effortless. Surprised by the shock of pain and his swift response, she blinked at him, one hand fisting in his shirt as a result from her own attempts at keeping from falling. Realizing that she was wrinkling his shirt horribly, she released the fabric.
He asked about her ankle, and once again, she was surprised. "It... it is, actually, yes," she said, lowly. "Thank you. I'm terribly sorry about all this. I'm not usually such a... damsel in distress."
It was actually incredibly embarrassing. She wasn't sure why the notion was ever romanticized.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 04:34 AM (GMT)
"It's alright. Really. It is," Ephram said, trying to assure her of that. He hadn't thought about this possibly inconveniencing him at all. If anything, he was fixated on the idea that he just wasn't helping enough or properly or in a way that she would appreciate. "I can help you sit back down if you'd like. Should I?"
Although Ephram didn't want to rush the lady into doing anything, he was concerned about touching her without an invitation like this, and it seemed best to sort out what he was doing with her as soon as possible. If she wanted him to let her go, he would have to help her sit or lead her to her horse or something . . .
Of course he never thought about it being odd for her to touch him. The intentions behind all this touching were similar for both parties, but obviously Ephram was the one doing something possibly offensive while the lady was being absolutely, undeniably harmless.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 04:39 AM (GMT)
She tried putting some weight on her ankle again, and it seemed less painful this time around. Maybe it was less serious than she'd thought. "No, that's alright," she reassured him, testing the ankle with the whole of her weight. It protested, and she winced a little, but at least she wasn't falling again. "I think it just got a little strained when it pulled free of the stirrup. Nothing to worry about."
Aware of his proximity all of a sudden, she smiled and took a half-step, half-limp backwards, not wanting to crowd his space.
She turned, and saw Kane galloping towards her. Luckily, it seemed Baby hadn't been hurt by the stumble, and Kane looked like he was ready to have a heart attack and die. "Well, here comes the cavalry," she joked, weakly. She looked back at her rescuer and said, "I really can't thank you enough. Is there any way I can convince you to accept my hospitality for an afternoon? Nothing says 'gratitude' like tea and sweet-cakes."
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 04:46 AM (GMT)
Ephram was about to question her, to insist that she be truthful in case she was simply trying to ease his mind, when they were interrupted. He stood firmly in his place but turned to see the approaching man on horseback. Aderyn must have been her name, and this person must have been a friend of hers. That was good, Ephram thought before he looked to the young lady again, his attention grabbed by her words.
"If you promise to look after that ankle properly, that will be all the thanks I could possibly need, m'lady," he explained with a slight smile. "You needn't trouble yourself with entertaining me." He paused before adding, "My name is Sir Ephram, but the way-- Now that the immediate danger has passed, surely I owe you that much."
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 04:49 AM (GMT)
"Aderyn Llewellyn," she said, filing the name away to ask some of her friends about later.
Kane approached just then, throwing his leg over his gelding while it was still in motion and landing beside the horse just as Baby stopped. He came forward and looked her over frantically. "Addy, are you okay? Tristella, I shoulda never put you on that damn horse--"
She stifled a smile. "I'm fine. Sir Ephram managed to stop Ruffian."
Despite her reassurances, his eyes fixed on her feet and narrowed. "Yer favorin' yer leg," he said, accusingly. She tried to put her foot on the ground more firmly, but he was already working himself up into a lather. "Oh Pryyo, your sister is going to murder me and eat my face for breakfast!"
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 05:05 AM (GMT)
Llewellyn . . .
"Your sister is the baroness?" Ephram asked politely, very deliberately staying close but trying his best to be gentlemanly about it, especially with the added company. "If so, you should have no trouble finding a doctor to see to that ankle of yours. It may be fine in a few days without any treatment, but it shouldn't hurt to have someone qualified examine the injury, I think."
He didn't want to make it seem like her foot was falling off, considering that her companion seemed to be more than concerned enough already, but he also didn't want said companion to think that the lady was absolutely fine. Ephram didn't trust her to take care of herself. . .
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 05:07 AM (GMT)
"She is not," Aderyn said, quickly, looking at Kane urgently and seriously. "Because she is not going to find out about this, remember?" Then she looked at Sir Ephram, and grimaced slightly. "I don't suppose you are actually on talking terms with my sister?"
Hopefully not, because she'd hate to have to ask a man to lie.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 05:19 AM (GMT)
Oh . . .
"I've actually never spoken to your sister, m'lady, though it's through no lack of interest or some dislike," he explained quickly, hoping she would understand.
He didn't believe the rumors about her sister, but he had certainly heard them, and he worried that she would assume he avoided the baroness because of them. That wasn't the case at all, and he didn't want anyone thinking he was so ridiculous as to choose his company based on gossip.
"Would you like me to escort you home?" he asked soon after his explanation, not wanting to give Aderyn too much time to call him a liar. "You could ride with me, or I could take your unbroken horse."
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 05:51 AM (GMT)
She smiled understandingly at his attempt to cover for his lack of socializing with Isyllt. "Please don't fret. Isyllt doesn't much partake in conversations, much, so I'm sure it has more to do with her than you. I was just wondering, because I would really like for this little... escapade to not reach her ears." She winced in apology and looked up at him hopefully, hands pressed together in front of her.
She would answer his question about escorting her home later. Kane, feeling as though he didn't quite belong in the conversation, went to check Ruffian's legs.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 27, 2011 03:46 PM (GMT)
Ephram glanced at Aderyn's friend before quickly returning his attention to her and considering her words for a moment. "I cannot lie to your sister, but I can promise not to actively search for an opportunity to tell her about this," he explained somewhat apologetically.
He didn't want to disappoint her, but he wasn't going to promise to lie for her if he was asked about the event for some reason. Ephram was probably a terrible liar anyway. He lacked practice, and he hated the idea of lying so much that he would likely have self-loathing plastered across his face if he tried to tell a proper lie.
"Since I have never spoken to her, I think your secret is safe with me, but don't let that ankle of yours suffer from it." Maybe it wasn't his place to be issuing advice like an order, but he meant no harm.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 27, 2011 03:53 PM (GMT)
She shook her head at the word lie, ready to explain that she couldn't possibly expect him to, but he continued on and she smiled. "That's all I ask," she said, relieved. Isyllt would never ask a random person about it, anyway -- if she never knew Aderyn went out to begin with. Plus, she would never just assume Sir Ephram was associated with the incident.
Her smile widened at the mention of her ankle, but she wasn't about to make any promises on that mark. "It would be my pleasure to ride with you," she said, finally, in response to his other question. She didn't think Baby could take two riders, and she was loathe to put herself or anyone else on Ruffian, at the moment. "You are too kind."
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 02:42 AM (GMT)
"I think, m'lady, I am just kind enough- no more," Ephram responded with a gentle smile to show his good will, but there was genuine humility there. He knew he was no perfect man of selflessness and constant kindness, and he wasn't attempting to foll anyone into thinking he was. "Would you like to return to Maristheum now? I can help you onto my horse." His smile brightened as he added, "I can even promise that he won't make any attempts to throw you off his back."
Horses were unpredictable to some degree, like any creature was, but Ephram had kept Valorian as his companion for years now, and he knew that horse was about as dependable as a horse could be. Ephram wouldn't consider putting a lady on Valorian's back if he wasn't so dependable. The distance between Valorian's saddle and the ground was a long way to fall.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 02:48 AM (GMT)
He was such a nice man. It was almost creepy -- like she'd just witnessed a storybook character come to life. She didn't realize real people existed who were like that, and wondered -- fruitlessly -- if there was anything more to him underneath the thick layer of chivalry. Otherwise, she imagined that people must find him very boring.
She laughed, and nodded. "Yes, please. Thank you." She limped over to Valorian, causing Kane to look up at her in concern.
"Sir Ephram has offered to let me ride with him on his horse, and I've accepted. Would you mind, terribly, gathering up Dancer? We can take Ruffian." Hopefully Dancer was still eating grass quietly where they'd left her.
Kane didn't look too pleased about the idea, and gave Ephram a long, skeptical look, but he finally shrugged. "Sure, I can do that, Addy." He leaned in and murmured, "You just watch him, though, y'here? Ain't nobody that wholesome." Aderyn sort of agreed, but she was also hoping that she and Kane were right. Otherwise, she could not even begin to imagine how utterly boring Ephram's life must be -- and, in such a case, she'd just have to pity the fellow. However, she rolled her eyes at Kane's assertion, and shooed him away with a hand. Making a sardonic sort of face, he got on top of Baby and galloped off to get Dancer.
"He's headed back ahead of us," she said. It struck her -- a little late -- that perhaps it would have made more sense for her to ride Dancer home. Oh well. At least this way, she could try and wrangle some tea into the man to showcase her gratitude.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 03:09 AM (GMT)
Ephram very nearly insisted on helping her get to Valorian, but then he remembered she had a hint of independence to her, and since she seemed to be getting on well enough, he didn't want to insult her by insisting that she needed his help. So instead of pestering her like he instinctively wanted to, he moved to her horse and took a hold of its reins and got its attention. It took a bit of pulling, but Ephram was no newcomer to dealing with horses. He managed to get it moving and secured it to Valorian without much trouble at all while Aderyn spoke to her friend.
With the horses tied together properly, Ephram turned to face the lady and asked, "May I help you up?" as he gestured toward the saddle on Valorian's back. "He's much taller than most horses-- not very easy for anyone of average size to get onto," he explained with a smile.
The first time he had let Aliara get on Valorian, she had needed a rather large mounting block. She wasn't a particularly short lady, and she wasn't at all uncoordinated or overly weak. The stallion was just that tall.
Aliara had loved that horse . . .
Ephram's smile disappeared as he stepped toward the horse's saddle and prepared to help the lady up if she would let him.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 03:12 AM (GMT)
"Mm, yes, thank you." She placed her foot in his hands and let herself get pushed up onto the stallion, swinging her leg over him as she landed in the saddle. To the horse's credit, he didn't so much as flick an ear. "What a fine temperament he has," she noted, reaching forward and scratching at the big of hair between the horse's ears.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 03:30 AM (GMT)
"It's mostly good breeding, I suppose," Ephram responded as he hopped up onto Valorian behind the lady. He reached around her as politely as he could to grab the reins. "He's a stallion, but he has always been fairly good-tempered, and now he follows commands well. He is very reliable-- won't take off on us, I swear."
Ephram urged the horse forward at a walk then transitioned into a trot before saying, "He likes the attention of kind ladies, too-- very much. His name is Valorian."
Valorian had never interacted with kind ladies on a regular basis, but he always seemed to be gentle and friendly with them, and he had loved Aliara. Granted, Aliara always gave him treats and scratched that special spot on his neck, but Ephram liked to think Valorian was a decent judge of character.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 03:47 AM (GMT)
She reminded herself to keep her feet out of the stirrups, and shifted up on the saddle to give him plenty of room to get on. When he got on behind her, she found that she couldn't relax, which was silly -- she'd ridden with men before. Trouble was, they'd all been her brothers, her father, Kane... People she knew and loved and trusted.
Not that she didn't trust Sir Ephram, especially since he was so very good about keeping all physical contact polite and incidental during the ride. But he was an x-factor. He was not a family member or a close friend, and despite everything else -- his age, his disinterest in her, his stifling cordiality, the likelihood that he was married and had a gaggle of children -- that meant that her body instinctively sensed him as a viable giver of future children, and made sure that she was aware of it every second that she was on the horse. It was rather vexing, and she had to sternly remind herself that she was neither a vapid, giggling young girl nor someone looking for a lover at all, and so she had no reason to even be thinking about it.
But he was very warm, and she couldn't help it.
Aderyn was, fortunately, able to hold onto the thread of conversation. "Does he do so admirably with your children, as well?" she asked, out of polite interest. It hadn't occurred to her that he might not have any children.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 03:57 AM (GMT)
Ephram's mind and expression went blank in an instant, and he soon became incredibly thankful for the fact that the woman before him couldn't see his awkward glance at her before he could correct himself.
"I have no children, actually," he explained lightly, not sounding overly pleased or bothered by that. "I am unmarried." That proved to be a little more difficult to say with the politeness of shallow smalltalk.
Realizing that didn't really tell her anything but his unfortunate marital status and potentially lead the conversation straight into uncomfortable areas, he then explained, "He is quite good around children in general, though. He isn't one to bite or be rough with anyone."
. . . well, anyone but Ephram. The animal seemed to know when he could get away with nudging someone like he meant to knock him over.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 04:01 AM (GMT)
Unmarried. And she was sharing a horse with him. Now that was awkward. She'd assumed he was married, simply because he seemed like he was of an age and temperament to be married -- and that was the kind of assumptions that got Aderyn into bits of social trouble. She was glad she was in front of him, so he couldn't see the way she screwed her eyes shut in self-loathing for a moment.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to presume," she said, awkwardly. She was all but vertically spooning with an unmarried man, and now she found it quite hard to think about anything else.
When he continued to talk about Valorian, she leapt at the chance to stop thinking about it.
"Well, I'm quite jealous. Our few stallions are rapscallions; we only keep one of them to ride, and only Isyllt can quite manage to keep the beast tame. He'll throw anyone else that touches him." She busied herself stroking the horse's main and neck as she spoke. "When I was younger, I had a pony who loved to bite." See, when she was a kid, no one had told her that ponies were assholes who just about bit anything just because they goddamn well could.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 04:14 AM (GMT)
"Valorian has his moments like any horse, but I am lucky to have him," Ephram responded as he began to wonder if he was making the lady uncomfortable.
She seemed somewhat uncomfortable, anyway, and the slight awkwardness in her words was more than enough to make Ephram think he had done something wrong. He was an odd man in that he tended to assume that he was at fault whenever something went wrong in situations such as this one. Most people were quick to blame external sources and justify themselves, but Ephram was quite the opposite.
Unfortunately there was no way for him to apologize for something he didn't realize he had done without making matters worse.
. . . granted, he was starting to assume it was wrong of him to put Aderyn in such close proximity like this, despite her injury. It was a little improper, given that he was unmarried, and she was as well- no supervision, concern about her sister's opinion . . . Llewellyn-related gossip.
"You live with your sister, then?" he asked after a pause, looking anywhere but down at her as he tried not to crowd her. "I can manage to take you to her estate without trouble. I'm familiar with the location."
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 04:15 AM (GMT)
"Yes, I do," she chuckled. "Until I marry, anyway." No matter how hard she tried to avoid that noose around her neck. There was a faint hint of defeatism to her tone as she said it, although she doubted he would have noticed.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 04:20 AM (GMT)
Unmarried and not betrothed, by the sound of it, but what else could he expect? The baroness would likely be the one to marry before her sister did. That was typically the way of it, particularly when titles like 'baron' and 'baroness' were involved.
"Do you hope your marriage takes you elsewhere, or do you like being in and around Maristheum?" he asked politely, not wanting to be too nosy on this topic . . . knowing how sensitive it could be.
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 04:22 AM (GMT)
She hesitated before answering, and then shrugged, trying to keep her tone light. "I don't know. I don't have much choice in the matter; Isyllt is arranging it. I suppose I will just have to accept whatever comes."
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 04:29 AM (GMT)
"I don't mean to suggest you aren't being truthful, but I think you must surely have a preference," Ephram said with a small smile. "Do you enjoy Maristheum enough to want to stay close? Would you like to travel? Considering you were out here on an unbroken horse, I get the feeling you might like some adventure . . ."
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 04:31 AM (GMT)
This was no more comfortable than his lack of marriage. "Well, I would hate to be bored," she finally admitted. She didn't want to just go out and say Yes! I want to travel! I can't stand it here! I yearn for something more!, because that was an awful lot of information to give to someone you'd just met. "But I believe Isyllt would like me to remain within Escova, at least."
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 04:37 AM (GMT)
Ephram had a feeling he understood more than what she was saying, but he didn't want to push her for confirmation. "I was born and raised on Sathyr. To be honest, I think I prefer home, but I like Maristheum and Escova well enough." He paused. "Escova is a good place to live. You won't miss out on much staying here. I think you may end up with a match that will please you and your sister."
It was nice to shoot for optimism, right?
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 04:41 AM (GMT)
For some reason, she found his optimism grating. Men would never understand this sort of thing, because it almost always worked out in their favor. It was the women that got passed around like chattel. Keeping up a false perky tone, she said, "Well, I believe the current plan is Baron D'Avart on Ilia." The man was well over sixty, and had children from previous marriages; it was obvious what Aderyn was meant for, there. "That should be interesting, should my sister decide on that course, shouldn't it?"
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 05:03 AM (GMT)
Ephram's brow furrowed slightly as he heard that.
"I think I understand your meaning," he said lowly, his intention to express genuine sympathy. "I hope your sister matches you with someone you can learn to enjoy, at the least."
He had been very lucky with Aliara, and Jason had been very lucky with Elaine. He liked to think Aliara and Elaine would have agreed and both marriages would have come to involve some sort of love, if things had been different. Ephram didn't think he would be so lucky again, knighthood or not, but he was fairly certain he could never be forced into a marriage that would leave him completely unhappy like the sort Aderyn was referring to.
"I . . . have no intention of suggesting that your position is a perfect one."
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 05:06 AM (GMT)
Oh, now she just felt bad. A little stiffly, she responded, "I know. It..." She turned and gave him a smile, to let him know that there were truly no hard feelings. "It is simply a matter that has been weighing on me for some time. It was unfair of me to burden with it; I'm truly sorry."
She envisioned Kane's response to that. A snort, and then a rib-crushing hug, and a stern reminder that she was free to burden him with whatever extra baggage she had on hand. Friends like that were truly special.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 05:23 AM (GMT)
"You don't need to apologize. It's no burden to me. I understand why this would be so . . . difficult for you to think about," he said, the low tone of his words originating from the honesty in them. "I know another young lady who feels as you do, I think. It must be much harder for you than it is for me, being unmarried." Perhaps he was saying too much. This wasn't entirely proper conversation for a first meeting . . . "This other lady, she has good parents- a father who surely wants what is best for his daughter- but even she has to worry because she can't possibly know who she will end up with, and she has far less control over it than I do."
He paused, cringing a little at his own lack of clarity. "I mean to say that you have no need to justify yourself to me."
Aderyn Llewellyn - June 29, 2011 05:28 AM (GMT)
There were many more like her, she knew. Most of them silent. Some out of a desire not to bring shame to their parents, some simply because they were told not to discuss it, and some because they knew that there was just nothing they could do about it, and so there was no use trying to discuss it. She never talked to women her own age about it, mostly because they were engaged or already married and could not be more ecstatic at being "chosen."
"I hope your friend fares well," she said, softly. What she meant was that she hoped his friend didn't end up with someone cruel. Looks and status aside, that was the possibility she feared most: base meanness.
Ephram Matthiasen - June 29, 2011 05:35 AM (GMT)
"I'll make sure she does," he decided, pulling Valorian off to the left and heading toward the road to Maristheum. "She was . . . supposed to marry my brother. I would hate to see her end up with anyone that would treat her unkindly." He paused, very deliberately looking away. "I hope you fare well, too. You seem deserving of a good husband."